News report | | 23/11/2021 | ±3 minutes reading time

The Australian government has announced an easing of its COVID-19 restrictions. As of December 1, holders of specific visas will again be allowed to travel into the country without having to apply for an exception permit. However, the new rules do not apply to tourists who want to travel to Australia with an eVisitor visa.

High vaccination coverage

The announced easing of restrictions is mainly possible because Australia has a very high vaccination rate; as much as 85% of the population is fully vaccinated, one of the highest numbers in the world. 91.5% of Australians has had at least one dose. Prime Minister Morrison has praised the “exceptionally high” vaccination coverage, which has enabled the easing of restrictions to be implemented earlier than planned. Previously, the Australian government had extended the international travel ban until 17 December.

Visas and vaccinations

Although some countries, such as India, also allow non-fully vaccinated travellers, Australia is clear on this matter; all travellers must be fully vaccinated. One dose is not enough (except for the Johnson and Johnson vaccine). All vaccines used in Europe are accepted by the Australian government. Travellers should also have a PCR test done up to three days before departure. Only if the result is negative may they travel to Australia.

In addition, all visitors must have a visa. Travelling to Australia without a visa is only possible for a limited number of people, such as citizens of Australia or New Zealand. All other travellers are required to apply for a visa Australia before departure.

A travel exemption permit is not required

Foreign travellers who fall under the new rules no longer need a travel exemption permit to travel to Australia. Until now, all foreign citizens who wished to visit to Australia during the travel ban were required to apply for an exemption permit. Visas were not granted unless passengers had also obtained an exemption from the entry ban.

Who do the new rules apply to?

The new rules on travel apply only to specific groups for the time being. These include:

  • International students
  • Specialised workers
  • People travelling with a humanitarian visa
  • Holders of a Working Holiday Visa
  • Visa Passengers travelling on family visas

Australia is also planning changes to the so-called “travel bubble” agreements. These agreements allow travellers from certain countries to travel to Australia without having to undergo quarantine after arrival. Currently, only New Zealand and Singapore are considered “safe” countries for Australia. From December 1, this will also apply to Japan and South Korea.

Tourists are not yet welcome

The announced easing of restrictions, however, does not apply to tourists. Not even if they are fully vaccinated and have a valid visa. It is still unclear when tourists with a visa will be allowed to travel to Australia again. The current travel ban for tourists expires on December 17. Earlier this year, the Australian Prime Minister Morrison said that Australia would keep its borders closed to tourists for the rest of the year. Holiday travel to Australia would then only be possible from the beginning of 2022. However, it is possible that this date will also be pushed forward due to the high vaccination rate in Australia.

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