Have Australian borders reopened? Last week, news headlines ‘Australia is re-opening’ created excitement for many. Since March 2020, Australia has enforced some of the strictest border controls, separating families and disrupting social cohesion. There are many people wishing to both leave and enter Australia, and as we look closer at Australia’s announcement, we explain what this means.
Who can currently enter Australia?
Entry is permitted for Australian citizens, permanent residents, and those few in exempt categories. This has remained the same, with no confirmed details about when Australia will allow temporary visa holders to enter.
However, Australia’s Prime Minister has confirmed that skilled visa holders and international students are next in line, once overseas Australian residents have returned. This is hopeful, and we predict Australian borders may open further in mid-2022.
Why Australians are unable to go home
The primary reason for Australians being unable to return is the high cost of quarantine, and the small number of quarantine facilities available. Currently, any traveller entering the country must complete a 14-day isolation in a designated hotel, costing upwards of $3,000 AUD. Limited quarantine facilities meant the introduction of flights caps, resulting in small numbers of people entering Australia every week. A backlog of Australians wanting to return home remains.
Last month it was reported that over 45,000 Australians are stranded overseas and have registered for government help (repatriation flights). The most recent repatriation flight offered from London to Darwin sold out in just 6 minutes.
Australian borders – What has changed?
Australians can travel overseas
As part of its Covid strategy, Australia banned its citizens from leaving the country without an exemption. The Australian Government has now confirmed that once a state reaches 80% vaccination rate, they can reopen. This means most Australians can leave and travel overseas to visit family.
This announcement does not yet mean Australia is open to tourism. Moreover, temporary visa holders cannot yet leave Australia as they are not guaranteed re-entrance under the current rules.
Changes to Australian quarantine
Soon, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to quarantine at home. Trials have been successful in NSW and SA, and the Government is pushing forward to make this Australia-wide. By allowing Australians to leave and then home-quarantine on return, families can be reunited, and hotel quarantine freed up for those who are unvaccinated. Australia’s flight caps will be reviewed (and hopefully increased) at the end of this month. These are promising developments.