Australia Prepares to Open Borders After 19 Months

Australia, Thursday (28/10), advised its residents who will travel abroad to be very careful.

The government issued the travel advisory as the country prepares to open its borders, for the first time in 19 months, starting Monday (1/11).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the planned opening in a press conference on Thursday (28/10).

According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the travel advice applies to 177 countries and territories that Australians may visit who have been fully vaccinated.

Passengers disembark from the first Qantas flight from Melbourne, Victoria, following the lifting of state border restrictions with New South Wales, at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, November 23, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Passengers disembark from the first Qantas flight from Melbourne, Victoria, following the lifting of state border restrictions with New South Wales, at Sydney Airport in Sydney, Australia, November 23, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Most Australian permanent residents and citizens have been unable to travel since March last year due to the very strict restrictions related to the pandemic. Exceptions are only given to those who have very strong reasons.

Travel to and from Australia for tourism is also never allowed.

International travel will initially be restricted at Sydney airport as the state of New South Wales where the city is located has the highest vaccination rate of any state.

More than 86 percent of the population aged 16 and over in the most populous state have been fully vaccinated, and more than 93 percent of the target population have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Initially only permanent residents and Australian citizens will be free to travel.

Fully vaccinated foreigners traveling on skilled worker and student visas will take priority over international tourists.

But the government expects Australia to welcome international tourists back before the year ends.

The reopening of borders to those who have been fully vaccinated has created difficulties for families traveling from countries that, unlike Australia, do not offer vaccines to children as young as 12.

Australia has gone from having one of the lowest vaccination rates among rich nations, due to a lack of supply and vaccine doubt, to one of the highest.

On 8 November, Australia will start offering a third vaccine shot (booster) to the entire adult population at least six months after their second injection. [ab/uh]

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