Australia will keep its borders closed until December, dashing hopes of a reopening before Christmas.
The “human biosecurity emergency period” will continue until at least December 17th, despite changing attitudes towards COVID-19 within Australia.
Greg Hunt, the Australian Health Minister said, “We’ve extended biosecurity protections to 17 December in line with medical advice.”
The travel ban has been in place since March 2020 after Australia quickly closed its borders to all non-citizens during the first COVID-19 outbreak. Since March 2020, Australia has had low cases of COVID-19 compared to the rest of the Western world.
However, the Delta variant has changed things and prompted discussions on living with COVID-19 instead of a zero-COVID strategy.
The Current Entry Restrictions
The Australian government has closed to all international arrivals apart from Australian citizens.
To enter Australia, you must have a valid visa, and travelers will need to apply for an exemption from the Australian government. Many travelers have struggled to get their exemption approved.
Travelers will also have to pay for the mandatory quarantine, and costs can be up to $2,500 for an individual or $6,000 for families.
The quarantine rules depend on the state you’re entering, but the quarantine is always mandatory across Australia regardless of where you enter. If travelers have spent 14 days in New Zealand, they won’t need to undergo the mandatory quarantine.
Travelers will need a negative PCR test with 72 hours of departure if traveling or transiting through Australia.
The COVID-19 Situation In Oz
The COVID-19 situation in Australia is rapidly changing. Until recently, Australia had the virus under control, and life was back to normal since August 2020 for most of Australia.
However, the Delta variant managed to escape hotel quarantine in Sydney and spread through the city. Australia is currently recording a 7-day average of 1,195 cases per day, and most of those cases are in Sydney.
Sydney has been under a strict lockdown for the past two months and will continue until the vaccination rates increase throughout the city. However, the debate around pursuing a zero-COVID strategy in Australia continues to rage.
Many people hoped that Australia would reopen before the Christmas period, and that’s still possible. According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia will resume international travel when vaccination levels reach 80 percent.
He stated, “When you reach 70%, the advice is you have built up a much more significant level of protection which enables the usual settings and levers that we have to deal with an outbreak, particularly Delta, are able to be more effective.”
Australia’s current vaccination rate is far behind the rest of the Western world. For example, only 27.5 percent of the population are fully vaccinated, which is way behind the United Kingdom, which has almost vaccinated 70 percent.
The government has increased vaccination rates in the previous two months as Australia tries to prevent locking down for the rest of 2021. Yet, many state leaders in Australia are reluctant to end the zero-COVID policy and hesitant around reopening and living with the virus.
Still, the rest of the world hopes that Australia — an incredible travel destination with various things to do — will finally reconnect with the rest of the world.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com