Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the opening of the country to all vaccinated visa holders starting 21 February.
In a media briefing on 7 February, Morrison said that all double vaccinated visa holders will now be able to enter Australia.
“It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia,” Morrison told reporters. “Australia will reopen our borders to all remaining visa holders on the 21st of February of this year.”
What did Prime Minister Scott Morrison say?
Emphasis on double vaccinated travellers
“The condition is you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia. That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it,” Morrison underlined.
“If you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia,” he said.
The Prime Minister informed the media that the National Cabinet took the decision based on the declining cases of COVID-19 and ICU admissions.
“We have been progressively opening our borders since November of last year,” he underlined.
According to 9News, the Prime Minister said that the planned programmes between Australia and countries such as New Zealand and Singapore have “proceeded very successfully”.
A comment on Novak Djokovic’s case
While stressing on the double vaccinated clause, Morrison also commented on the deportation of Novak Djokovic following the ‘exemption’ controversy granted to the unvaccinated tennis star ahead of the Australian Open.
The Prime Minister said that Djokovic’s case “should have sent a very clear message to everyone around the world that is the requirement to enter into Australia”.
Hopes up for tourism industry
Australia shut its borders to the outside world in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic started spreading across the world.
The country gradually started opening its doors in recent months, allowing only citizens, residents, international students, backpackers, some seasonal workers and skilled migrants to enter.
Tourism in Australia, one of the major revenue earners for the country, has suffered greatly due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The restrictions had to be extended repeatedly as new and potentially more transmittable variants emerged, including the recent Omicron surge.
Earlier in January, Morrison expressed hope that Australia would be able to reopen completely before Easter.
According to 9News, around 300,000 people have visited Australia since November when restrictions began to be relaxed in a staggered manner. As Australia reopens borders, that number is expected to go up.
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(Main and Featured images: Photoholgic/@photoholgic/Unsplash)