After closing its international borders for nearly 600 days due to the pandemic, Australia welcomed its first group of foreign visitors on Monday as the country took steps to gradually lift restrictions.
Fully vaccinated travelers from New Zealand who tested negative on pre-departure Covid tests can now enter Australia. They could skip quarantine in certain jurisdictions like New South Wales, but these terms may differ in other states and territories.
The next group of overseas travelers to visit Australia will be those from Singapore.
City-state travelers vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to travel to New South Wales and Victoria – the two most populous states in Australia – from November 21 without quarantine. You would also have to be tested negative for Covid tests before departure.
The decision was reportedly made on Sunday when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met his Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at the G-20 summit in Italy.
“Australia is open. Australians are traveling again,” said Morrison at a press conference in Rome on Sunday. “Australia is opening up to Singapore, opening up to New Zealand.”
People gather for a picnic next to Harbor Bridge in the suburb of Kirribilli on September 19, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Covid-19 restrictions have eased for fully vaccinated people in NSW.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Although Morrison did not reveal any further details at the press conference, Singapore’s Minister of Transport S. Iswaran said on social media that Australia would allow visitors from Singapore to enter the country from November 21st.
Singapore last week expanded its quarantine-free vaccinated travel itinerary to include visitors from Australia as well as 12 other countries including the US and the UK
The Australian airline Qantas has resumed its international flight operations with flights between Sydney and London and Los Angeles.
‘Ready to take off’
Starting Monday, Australian citizens and permanent residents will be able to leave the country without a waiver.
In the meantime, fully vaccinated Australians and their families have been allowed to enter New South Wales and Victoria free of quarantine since November 1.
“A great day for Australia! We’re good to go!” Morrison said that in a separate Facebook post. He added that easing restrictions on Monday was “an important step in reopening Australia to the world” and urged more people to get vaccinated.
Both New South Wales and Victoria now have 80% of their eligible populations fully vaccinated.
Australia has one of the most restrictive coronavirus border policies in the world, which only allowed citizens and permanent residents to enter and went through a mandatory two-week quarantine.
Thousands of Australians have been stranded overseas due to fewer flights available and weekly restrictions on entry to major cities.