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Australia reopens to international travel

International visitors will finally be able to come and say g'day.

Australia is to reopen to international travel from Monday February 21, finally ending a two-year closure.

Prime minister Scott Morrison announced today (Monday February 7) that all foreign travellers with visas and proof of double vaccination would be eligible to enter the country.

“If you’re double-vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia,” he said at the press briefing.

However, travel bodies have warned that it will take some time to boost flights and capacity, and for tourism businesses to build up staff numbers following the two-year hiatus.

Australia closed its borders in March 2020 and was successful in keeping Covid-19 out of the country following the implementation of some of the strictest travel restrictions in the world. The numbers of returning residents were capped, Australians were banned from travelling overseas and all those entering Australia had to carry out a two-week hotel quarantine.

However, much of the country is now experiencing a wave of Covid cases as the highly transmissible omicron variant rips through Australia.

The country recorded more than 23,000 cases yesterday, including more than 8,000 in Victoria and almost 7,500 cases in New South Wales.

Morrison’s decision to open up puts pressure on Western Australia’s state premier, Mark McGowan, who has maintained the state’s strict internal border closure. Visitors to WA will still need to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel, and take four PCR tests, in order to enter the state. International arrivals into WA remain capped at 265 people per week.

Initially, WA was due to reopen on February 5, but in the face of surging omicron infections in the rest of the country, McGowan has delayed the reopening indefinitely. The state is one of the only places left in the world that is still pursuing a zero-Covid policy.

According to Morrison, the international borders are reopening because Australia has thousands of omicron cases.

“The variant is here in Australia,” he said. “And for those who are coming in who are double vaccinated, they don’t present any greater risk than those who are already here in Australia.”

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