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Australia reopens to international visitors after 2 years, gradually unwinds restrictions

Australia will allow double-vaccinated visa holders to enter the country from Feb. 21, ending around two years of strict international border controls introduced to stem the spread of Covid-19.

“The condition is you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters Monday. “That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it.”

The announcement is the final step in a gradual unwinding of restrictions on tourists and foreign workers, which kicked off in November. Australia’s borders have been almost entirely closed since shortly after the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, with only citizens allowed to return on limited flights.

Individual states will continue to be able to set their own quarantine rules and arrival caps, Morrison added.

The news will be welcomed by Australia’s billion-dollar tourism industry, which saw jobs tumble by almost 12% in the year to September as the country’s lengthy border closure devastated the sector.

Shares in Australian carrier Qantas Airways Ltd. climbed as much as 6% after Morrison’s announcement, the biggest intraday jump since November 2020, while Corporate Travel Management Ltd. shares rose as much as 8%.

The announcement will put pressure on the state of Western Australia, which still remains closed to the rest of the country after delaying its domestic border reopening in late January.

The decision to allow vaccinated international arrivals comes as Covid infections, hospitalizations and intensive care admissions trend down in many parts of the country. Travelers who haven’t had two doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine will need to provide proof that there’s a medical reason they have not had their shots, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said.

Australia’s strict entry policies recently grabbed global attention when unvaccinated tennis superstar Novak Djokovic was deported following a national outcry after he received a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open. – Bloomberg.

Also read: Australian Cricket coach Langer resigns, board says he declined short-term extension

Source: The Print

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