When Will Australia Allow International Travel?
Australia closed its international borders in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Australia has handled the coronavirus pandemic differently than most, with extremely strict social distancing regulations, border restrictions, contact tracing, and blocking. The country has seen a spike in Covid cases this year due to the delta variant, which has resulted in several major cities being locked down.
Already in November, the Australian authorities intend to begin lifting the current restrictions and allow vaccinated citizens to travel outside the country. But when will non-Australian tourists be able to visit this exotic country? Let’s try to figure it out.
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For citizens and residents of the country.
Despite the upbeat news surrounding the possible opening of Australian borders, local quarantine measures may seem excessive to residents of other countries.
Australia stands ready to take steps to open borders safely. States and territories will start this program at different times based on the number of people vaccinated, but the plan is expected to take effect in November. Thus, the Australian airline Qantas Airways has already announced the resumption of flights to London and Los Angeles from November 14.
The opening of borders to Australians is driven by the pace of vaccination – Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that full vaccination of at least 80% of the population aged 16 and over is required to resume international travel. Two weeks ago, the prime minister tweeted that half of the country’s population over 16 has been vaccinated, and 75% have received at least one dose.
A prerequisite for the return to the continent of citizens and permanent residents of the country will be quarantined. Vaccinated tourists (with Australian citizenship) will have to be isolated for 7 days at home, and citizens who have not received the vaccine will be forced to spend two weeks in a public isolation ward.
And now for the bad news. Australia will not open to tourists, at least until the end of the year. The immediate priorities for the Australian government are the workforce and students. This is everything international travel enthusiasts need to know.
The Australian Tourist Board expects a full resumption of tourist travel in March 2022, but exact dates have not yet been announced. The country’s tourism business, which has been hit hard by both the inbound tourism ban and domestic restrictions, is disappointed by the lack of clarity on the resumption of tourist travel.
Will the ETA permit work after the lockdown is canceled?
Most likely, it is the Australian Government that will give preference to the e-visa for the restoration of international tourism. The outdated scheme of obtaining a “traditional” visa through an embassy, consulate or visa center will not be used after the ban on entry of international tourists is lifted.
Let’s remind how it worked before the pandemic. Anyone had the opportunity to make a planned trip to Australia by obtaining an Australian visa. Citizens of some countries could obtain a visa using the ETA (Electronic Travel Authorization) system. At the same time, the following types of ETA existed:
At the time the lockdown was announced (March 2020), the ETA was issued to citizens of the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- United States.
The average time for obtaining an electronic permit to enter Australia was 12-72 hours through Natvisa. In most cases, the ETA was approved in less than 30 seconds. In a small number of cases, an ETA was processed in 72 hours.
The ETA was granted either for 12 months from the date of its authorization, or for the duration of the visitor’s passport, whichever is the shorter. Most visa applicants had to meet medical requirements and have positive qualifications to enter Australia.
Multiple entry e-visas have also been issued. Its holder had the opportunity to leave and return to Australia as many times as he wanted, for the duration of this visa. The holder of a multiple ETA could stay in Australia for 3 months each time they entered.
As an ETA business owner you could:
• Accept general business or work inquiries
• Research, negotiate, enter into or renegotiate business contracts
• Conduct events within the framework of an official visit to the government
• Participate in a conference, exhibition, or seminar. The organizers cannot pay you to participate.
However, you did not have the right to:
• Work or provide services to an Australian company or organization that sells goods or services directly to the public.
At the moment, it is difficult to talk about the date of the resumption of tourist trips to Australia, whether to hike Mount Kosciuszko or visit the Great Barrier Reef, one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. According to the latest forecasts, this should happen in March 2022, but only if the vaccination campaign has been successfully carried out and there is no worsening of the epidemiological situation.
At the moment, international travel, the main thing you need to know about the rules of travel to Australia is:
• International travel to Australia is not permitted at all. This limitation does not apply to Australian citizens and permanent residents.
• International flights are operated by only one Australian airline – Qantas Airways.
• All travelers must undergo a 14-day government quarantine at their own expense.
• Entry is allowed for certain categories of travelers. Exceptions to border closures can be made for certain transits that do not exceed 72 hours. Travelers who have been in Australia or New Zealand for at least 14 days before travel are allowed entry.
• Australia Travel Declaration Form must be completed within 72 hours of departure.
• Proof of a negative PCR test done within the previous 72 hours must be provided upon departure.
• Upon arrival and during the isolation period, all passengers undergo medical examinations such as temperature checks and visual assessments. Those who show symptoms of COVID-19 may need additional testing.
Perhaps many of these rules will be relevant after the ban on entry for international tourists is lifted. Natvisa will keep track of all changes related to travel to Australia and inform you about the most significant ones.
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