Australia has outlined plans to lift a pandemic ban on its vaccinated citizens traveling overseas from November. But no date has yet been set for welcoming international tourists back.
Travel restrictions that have trapped most Australians and permanent residents at home over the past 18 months would be removed when 80% of the population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday (Oct 1).
Australia introduced some of the toughest travel restrictions of any democracy in the world on people entering and leaving the island nation on Mar 20 last year.
Most Australians have had to argue for rare exemptions from the travel ban to leave the country. There are a few exceptions from the ban including government employees and essential workers. Tourism is never accepted as a reason to cross the border.
Hundreds of thousands have failed to reach relatives’ death beads, missed funerals or weddings and have yet to be introduced to grandchildren because of restrictions aimed at keeping Covid-19 out of Australia.
New South Wales would likely become the first state to reach the 80% vaccination benchmark and Sydney’s airport the first to open to international travel, Morrison said.
“We’ve saved lives. We’ve saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country,” Morrison said.
Sydney-based Qantas Airways announced international flights would resume from Nov 14 to London and Los Angeles.
Morrison offered no clue to when other nationalities would be welcome to visit Australia.