Australia has confirmed that next week it will lift a ban that has prevented its citizens from traveling abroad without a permit.
Australians have spent 19 months under some of the toughest border rules in the world in an effort to keep Covid out.
From 1 November, people will no longer need an exemption to leave the country, provided they are fully vaccinated.
Only Australians are eligible, but some rules for foreigners will soon be relaxed, the government said.
“Before the end of the year, we plan to welcome fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students,” Interior Minister Karen Andrews said in a statement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison had foreshadowed the reopening of the Australian border, saying it was “time to give Australians their lives back”.
The changes have been welcomed by Australians and others globally. Many have spent long periods apart from loved ones.
“But I will believe the borders have reopened when I see it and hear the stories of stranded Australians who managed to return home uninhibited,” Amy Hayes, who lives in England, told the BBC earlier this month.
- Lives upset by Australia’s sealed border
- Australians trapped in the UK
A surge in vaccinations has allowed some Australian states to end their all-out strategy.
Morrison said Australia is “very close” to accepting a travel bubble with Singapore. The Asian city-state said on Tuesday that it will allow fully vaccinated Australians, permanent residents and their families to enter without quarantine from 8 November.
But states like Queensland and Western Australia have threatened to keep their borders closed until vaccine rates are even higher.
At the moment, people can leave Australia – which has recorded more than 160,000 Covid infections and 1,653 deaths – only for exceptional reasons such as essential jobs or to visit a dying relative.
Entry is allowed to citizens and others with exemptions, but there are strict limits on arrival numbers. This has left tens of thousands of people stranded overseas.
Australians under 12 will be exempt from the new vaccination requirement for travel.
All other unvaccinated travelers still need exemptions and must quarantine at hotels for 14 days upon return.
- Coronavirus pandemic
Australia begins travel bubble with Singapore
- 5 days ago
Australians trapped in the UK
- 25 September 2020
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