Australia closed its international borders when the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. Starting Monday, November 1, 20 months later, the borders have reopened so fully vaccinated Australian citizens and permanent residents can travel outside the country without a special exemption.
With the border now reopen so Australians can leave the country, the Australian government is painstakingly reminding citizens to “exercise a high degree of caution” as they travel because COVID-19 remains an ongoing global health risk.
“To help Australians prepare for safe overseas travel, Smartraveler’s global ‘Do not travel’ advisory has been removed and travel advice levels have been updated for 177 destinations,” Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs, wrote on social media. However, in a separate statement, Payne noted that “Under the travel advice framework announced today, no destination will be set lower than level 2 ‘Exercise a high degree of caution,’ given the ongoing COVID-19 health risks and the continuing complexities of international travel.”
A Strict Lockdown
Australia has been under a strict lockdown since the COVID-19 pandemic began. For instance, the country has been closed to international tourists since March 2020.
On the other hand, most Australian permanent residents and citizens have not been able to leave the country, either. Some citizens, such as government employees on official business, have been able to leave the country. Other citizens, however, had to request exemptions from the travel ban while demonstrating exceptional circumstances, but most of those requests were rarely granted.
An Improving Situation
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained that the reason for the country’s change in policy is that its “national plan” is working and that Australia’s vaccination rates continue to rise rapidly.
Today, 76 percent of Australia’s eligible population — those over 16 years old — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the Sydney [Australia] Morning Herald’s vaccine tracker. Furthermore, almost 88 percent of the eligible population has received at least one dose of a vaccine.
Those numbers continue to increase as well. In the past 7 days, an average of 132,060 people have been vaccinated per day, according to the vaccine tracker.
A Cautious Approach To Travel
As fully vaccinated Australians begin to travel outside the country, government officials caution that they do so at their own risk. At the same time, the government also urges those travelers to use government tools to assess risk.
“While fully vaccinated Australians will be able to depart Australia without an exemption from 1 November, all travelers will need to be aware of risks and take care, regardless of where they travel, while COVID-19 remains an ongoing global health risk,” Payne wrote. “The updated country-specific travel advice [on Smartraveller] will allow Australians planning to travel overseas to assess risks, understand requirements, and prepare to travel safely. It will also help Australians to access travel insurance more readily.”
Know Before You Go
While Australia’s government expects to reopen the country’s borders to international tourists later this year, Australia’s borders are currently closed. The only people who can travel to Australia are Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, and travelers who have been in New Zealand for at least 14 days before departing for Australia.
You can find more information about traveling to Australia here.
Be sure to also read all of our Australia coverage, including: