AUSTRALIA to open borders to vaccinated tourists on 21 February

Australia to welcome international travellers back nearly two years after closing its borders. Australia will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated tourists from February 21, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced, ending some of the world’s strictest and longest-running pandemic travel restrictions.

“It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia,” Morrison said during a media briefing on Monday.

“If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia.”

Australia shut its borders in March 2020 to protect itself against a surging COVID-19 pandemic.

For most of the time since then, Australians have been barred from leaving and only a handful of visitors have been granted exemptions to enter.

The rules have split families, hammered the country’s large tourist industry and prompted sometimes acrimonious debates about Australia’s status as a modern, open and outward-looking nation.

With the rollout of its vaccination programme last year, Morrison’s government has slowly relaxed the rules for Australians, long-term residents and students.

Monday’s decision will see almost all remaining caps lifted.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said it “greatly welcomed” the move.

“The Asia Pacific region has been very cautious in its approach to border restrictions so far but in recent weeks, we have seen growing momentum towards relaxation of travel restrictions – in the Philippines, Thailand, and to some extent New Zealand,” Philip Goh, IATA’s Regional Vice President for the Asia Pacific said in a statement.

“We urge other governments in the Asia Pacific to look at similarly further easing their border restrictions so as to enable aviation businesses to accelerate their much-needed recovery and to bring maximum benefits to their economies.”