Australia has some of the world’s strictest travel restrictions, banning all foreign tourists and not allowing citizens to leave for non-essential reasons since the pandemic began. But after almost two years of closed borders, Australia says they will reopen by Christmas at the latest.
This post will look at the latest statement from Australia’s tourism minister and what travelers can expect when the country reopens for tourism.
Australia’s Tourism Minister Says They Will Open By Christmas At Latest
Australia’s minister for trade, tourism, and investments said today that the country is on track to reopen by Christmas at the latest.
“I do empathize with the Australians who have been denied the opportunity to travel overseas this year,” Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said during a talk that the National Press Club of Australia organized.
“It’s another reason why everyone should get vaccinated and we have to stick to the national plan that will see our international border open up — at this rate by Christmas at the latest.”
Australia’s border restrictions were recently extended until December 17, but this statement is a positive sign that might be the last extension – with the assumption vaccination rates continue to increase at their current rate.
Vaccination Rates Need To Hit 80%
Australia’s prime minister has previously said that the country won’t reopen until 80% of its population has been vaccinated, so this is a key metric that needs to happen before reopening.
“It’s incredibly important that we’re doing that preparatory work,” said Tehan while laying out some of the tasks that will need to happen to get the country on the road to reopening.
As of September 22, about 38% of Australians had received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
Rates have been steadily increasing since the country launched a vaccination campaign last month targeted at Australia who miss travel.
“We need to claim back our way of life so that we can visit friends and relatives, get back into the workplace, get our kids back to school, travel domestically and internationally again, and welcome the world back to enjoy all that Australia has to offer,” Phillipa Harrison, managing director of Tourism Australia said in a press statement when the campaign debuted.
What Can Travelers Expect When Australia Reopens?
Australia Will Use Vaccine Passports
Australia is currently trialing vaccine passports. The initial rollout is for diplomatic missions overseas before they are available for the general public.
Countries earmarked to be part of the vaccine passport’s first destinations include Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, the US, and neighboring Pacific Islands.
At Home Quarantine Program Launched
Australia’s expensive hotel quarantine program has prevented many residents from returning home, but now the option to quarantine at home is becoming widely available.
New South Wales and South Australia are piloting programs to allow vaccinated travelers to quarantine at home, which has recently expanded to include international arrival.
It is not yet clear if all travelers will need to quarantine when the country reopens or what options will be available.
Many International Flights Resuming
Qantas, the country’s national carrier, announced last month that they are preparing to start international flights as early as December with countries that have high vaccine rates. The company said that passengers will need to be vaccinated to board the flights.
Virgin Australia, the second-largest airline behind Qantas, has also called for international flights to and from Australia to be able to resume by Christmas, as well as making Covid-19 vaccines for their staff mandatory.
Air Canada recently announced that they will be resuming their Sydney-Vancouver flight route four times a week, with the first flight taking off on December 17.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com