Australia will lift a ban on citizens travelling overseas for fully vaccinated residents from November 1, the government announced Wednesday.
This comes as the number of Covid-19 vaccines given has increased – with the adult double-dose vaccination rate approaching 80 per cent.
More than 18 months after Australia closed its international borders, fully vaccinated citizens will no longer have to seek an exemption to leave the country, a joint statement from the health and home affairs ministries said.
The country's is also set to open to skilled workers and international students by the end of the year, with Sydney and Melbourne – its biggest cities – preparing to welcome overseas travellers without quarantining.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australian citizens are currently being prioritised, but plans to ease more travel restrictions to include non-citizens as vaccination rates increase.
“Before the end of the year, we anticipate welcoming fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students,” she said.
Unvaccinated travellers will still be allowed entry if they agree to undergo the two-week mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
Quarantine arrangements for returning vaccinated residents will depend on where they arrive in Australia.
While Sydney has scrapped quarantine for returning vaccinated residents, other Australian states with lower vaccination rates still have mandatory and costly 14-day hotel quarantine requirements.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia was now “very close” to announcing a reciprocal travel bubble with Singapore, which announced late Tuesday that Australians no longer had to quarantine on arrival.
Qantas flights to the city-state are scheduled to resume on November 22, after international flights have been grounded for almost 600 days.
On March 20 last year, Australia introduced some of the world's toughest border restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Families have been separated across continents, with tens of thousands of nationals stranded overseas and foreign residents stuck in the country.