Fully vaccinated visa holders and international students will be allowed to enter Australia without seeking an exemption beginning next month, in one of the most significant changes to Australia's border policies since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the course of December and January, more than 200,000 international students, eligible skilled migrants, and refugees are expected to return to Australia without the need for an exemption, as the country enters the final phase of its reopening plan.
After double-dose vaccination rates surpassed 85% for adults over the age of 16, Prime Minister Scott Morrison formally announced on Monday the further relaxation of international border restrictions, bringing Australia one step closer to pre-Covid normalcy.
Mr Morrison stated that the return of skilled workers and students would provide the much-needed boost to Australia's economy that has been lacking for nearly two years.
“We said let’s get Australians home first, and that’s been occurring, and so from next month we will welcome back students and start looking to (bring back) the skilled workers that are needed to ensure we are able to take full advantage of the economic recovery that we are working to secure,” he said.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the announcement was “yet another step forward” for Australia.
“Eligible visa holders include skilled workers and student cohorts, as well as refugees, humanitarians, temporary and provisional visa holders,” she said.
“In order to access the new provisions, travellers will need to be fully vaccinated, and they will need to present a negative PCR test taken within three days prior to their departure.”
Travellers will need to be fully quarantined and have returned a negative test within 72 hours to be eligible for quarantine-free travel.
“These changes are crucially important... as we go through our reopening phase,” she said.
Mr Morrison said the return of skilled workers and students to Australia was a “major milestone” in Australia's pathway back to normality.
“It’ll mean a lot for the economies around the country who need those workers and want to see those students return,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to that occurring from December 1st, 2021.”
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