Australia Reopening To Visitors On February 21 (For Real)

Australia Reopening To Visitors On February 21 (For Real)

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Australia sure has been an interesting country to watch during the pandemic. For nearly two years now, the country hasn’t welcomed visitors. That will finally be changing in two weeks, as the country will be reopening its borders to fully vaccinated visitors from around the globe.

Australia about to reopen to tourists

Australia’s borders first closed in early 2020, to curb the spread of coronavirus. Not only did the country not welcome visitors, but Australia also didn’t let citizens leave the country, aside from a limited set of exceptions.

In October 2021, Australia finally partially reopened its borders, whereby citizens could leave the country. The policies for returning to Australia still differed by state, with some requiring just a coronavirus test, and others requiring a full quarantine. However, up until now foreigners still haven’t been able to enter the country.

That will be changing shortly, as Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed that international borders will be reopening as of Monday, February 21, 2022:

  • Visitors will need to be fully vaccinated, though there doesn’t seem to be any sort of a booster requirement
  • There will be a pre-travel testing requirement, as you can either get a PCR test within 72 hours of departure, or a rapid antigen test within 24 hours of departure
  • There will be no testing or quarantine requirement on arrival, so you’ll be free to travel around the country as you’d like; the exception is that Western Australia will continue to remain off limits, as it’s even closed to most Australians

This is fantastic news. Just last week, Morrison said he hoped borders would open by Easter at the latest, so this represents the timeline being moved forward significantly.

Australia will finally reopen to visitors on February 21

I’ve been curious when this would happen…

Australia has had a unique journey with coronavirus. Until late 2021, the country more or less had coronavirus fully under control. Then with omicron, things changed rapidly, and Australia got to the point where 100K+ cases per day were recorded. For a while per capita case numbers in Australia were among the highest in the world, given the highly contagious omicron variant and lack of natural immunity.

With those kinds of cases, I wondered when we’d see Australia just rip the band-aid off and open, given that at that point people from outside the country were less likely to be infected than those in the country. I can appreciate the concept of not wanting to overwhelm the healthcare system, but between vaccination and omicron being fairly mild, it seems like there was a responsible way to reopen.

What’s noteworthy is that a significant percentage of Australians don’t support borders reopening, so I’m curious to see how welcoming people are of visitors. I suspect the closed border sentiment will primarily be outside of the places most frequented by tourists, like Sydney and Melbourne.

Many Australians want borders to remain closed

Bottom line

After nearly two years, Australia will finally be reopening its international borders to visitors as of February 21, 2022. Visitors will just need a pre-departure test (PCR or rapid antigen), and Western Australia remains closed, but otherwise people are free to explore the country.

This is great to see after the country has been closed for nearly two years now. While Australians are already allowed to travel, foreigners haven’t been able to visit the country.

I think in the coming months we’re going to get to the point where the world starts to realize that the only way forward is to live with coronavirus, and shutting everything (including borders) down every few months to coincide with waves just isn’t sustainable.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s borders continue to remain closed, and the current plan is for them to only open on a widespread basis without quarantine in late 2022 at the earliest. I wonder if we’ll see that timeline moved forward now.

What do you make of Australia’s tourism reopening?

Conversations (51)
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  1. BRC Guest

    When will American's be able to apply for an ETA? I am trying on the website and it will not allow me.

  2. Laura Guest

    i’m happy to listen to these fantastic news. Do you think that boundaries will be still open in July?

  3. Anna Kowalski Guest

    Australians are well educated per capita than anywhere else in the world, possibly because of the size of our population overall. The Morrison Government has tried to 'gas light' us and has been hard at work censoring the media for some years now but Australians are not stupid and as a party both federally and at a state level they have started to earn themselves a reputation as 'intellectually bogans' - none is buying Scomo...

    Australians are well educated per capita than anywhere else in the world, possibly because of the size of our population overall. The Morrison Government has tried to 'gas light' us and has been hard at work censoring the media for some years now but Australians are not stupid and as a party both federally and at a state level they have started to earn themselves a reputation as 'intellectually bogans' - none is buying Scomo & co's rhetoric, the may elections are on tract to leave the National's Party as the 2nd Major Party in the Australian Federate. The Australian Liberal Party are Dinasoars and looking down the nose at extinction.
    Don't tell us that Omnicron is a mild infection - 5.6 million people have died world wild, USA, UK etc are getting upwards of 100K infections per day. Now there is a new sub variant BA2. No, the rest of the world is not welcome and not because we are non humanitarian or unwelcoming. Tourism is a superfficial and artificial component of the the real infrastructure of any economy, it's a tertiary industry, seasonal and not a real contibutor to the core GDP infrastructure of any country. Countries that are dependent on tourism are largely fickle and economically unstable countries. As far as I am concercerned we can isolate for the next 300 yrs. Japan did. This country is diverse - would take us the next 10 years to explore it.
    Get Lost you ignoramis.
    Get

    1. AA56 Guest

      @Anna.
      You're a legend. We don't need tourists. Stay where you are to help stop the spread of the virus. Australia has great wealth and doesn't need COVID riddled arrivals entering Australia.

    2. East2West Member

      Interesting take on tourism. You know your commenting on a travel blog? :)

    3. AA56 Guest

      @East2West.
      I love to travel and tourism but not during this pandemic. We all need to stay home to stop the spread of the virus. Tourist operators have ridden the grave train for many years prior to 2020 so shame on them if they haven't saved for a rainy day.

    4. Watson Gold

      @Anna

      Omicron is milder - that is a fact not up for debate. BA2 is slightly more contagious, but not more severe. The US and AU have similar omicron per capita case counts, however case counts are now irrelevant; only hospitalizations and deaths matter, and there have been precious few of those amongst the vaccinated population. And given that omicron is already spreading like wildfire throughout QLD, NSW, and VIC, your average tourist isn't any...

      @Anna

      Omicron is milder - that is a fact not up for debate. BA2 is slightly more contagious, but not more severe. The US and AU have similar omicron per capita case counts, however case counts are now irrelevant; only hospitalizations and deaths matter, and there have been precious few of those amongst the vaccinated population. And given that omicron is already spreading like wildfire throughout QLD, NSW, and VIC, your average tourist isn't any more likely to have covid than your average Australian. Remaining shut down is just sticking your head in the sand and hoping the problem will magically go away.

      PS: It took Japan more than a generation to recover from their isolation period. It's not something you should wish for.

  4. Mh Diamond

    Glaringly absent, and completely inconsistent, was any mention of cruise ships which we trail the rest of the world in allowing.

    Despite being safer given the extra requirements they have over standard international travellers, and that all the crew would comply with this new requirement, cruise ships themselves have still not been addressed and are not permitted in Australia.

    So still very poor governance here.

  5. Fed UP Guest

    Who cares. Why would anyone want to go there when you were just be ostracized from being from the outside

    1. platy Guest

      @ Fed UP

      Yes, a good reason not to go. But can you name a single American who was ostracised when visiting Australia? Are you sure that your perception is connected to practical reality? Sure we'll take the piss of you guys, big time, it's an Aussie thing to tease and sledge. It generally leads to bonding over extra rounds of beer in a process of establishing "mateship".

    2. Dennis Guest

      @platy, Oh rubbish, Australia ostracised even its own citizens.

    3. AA56 Guest

      So the majority were protected from COVID.

    4. platy Guest

      @ Dennis

      So, you're commenting on the prejudiced perception inside your head, and not the content of my post, which said, and I quote...."when visiting Australia".

      It really sounds like you are completely marginalised in your position both in WA and Australia generally - in both, your views are those of the one or two percent.

      The WA Premier has stratospheric popularity and the right wing nut jobs of the Liberals almost completely wiped out...

      @ Dennis

      So, you're commenting on the prejudiced perception inside your head, and not the content of my post, which said, and I quote...."when visiting Australia".

      It really sounds like you are completely marginalised in your position both in WA and Australia generally - in both, your views are those of the one or two percent.

      The WA Premier has stratospheric popularity and the right wing nut jobs of the Liberals almost completely wiped out and the country bumpkin Nationals clinging to just a couple of seats.

      It doesn't look good for Scotty from Marketing either, given the most recent national polls. The Deputy PM, Barnababy's text messages really nailed it.

      Hadn't you decided to leave anyway (once you've worked out you're not actually "stuck" as you claimed in an earlier thread)?

    5. JDee Diamond

      What a joke comment - as at March 2021, 30% of Australians were born outside Australia. No-one is going to ostracise you unless you behave like a dick!

  6. Tim Guest

    Great news Ben.

    Where did you see the reference that COVID testing on arrival is no longer required?

    This was a state imposed requirement, and I didn't see any reference to this being removed. Hopefully, it is.
    We are arriving on Good Friday which is widely observed in Australia and I am concerned about our ability to get a test.

    1. platy Guest

      @ Tim

      Maybe travel with a few Rapid Antigen Tests as a back up - at the moment supply is very patchy.

      Any state by state requirements can be checked on the respective state government websites.

  7. glenn t Diamond

    I'd have to agree with @R90 that your observations on things Australian generally are a bit off the mark generally, being viewed through American eyes.

    Wildly off the mark though are your sweeping assertion that residents outside the Sydney-Melbourne axis are against re-opening up to foreign (aliens, as you'd say) tourists. There is not the same sharp divide like you have with your urbane centres and your hillbilly states. Australians are way more egalitarian than...

    I'd have to agree with @R90 that your observations on things Australian generally are a bit off the mark generally, being viewed through American eyes.

    Wildly off the mark though are your sweeping assertion that residents outside the Sydney-Melbourne axis are against re-opening up to foreign (aliens, as you'd say) tourists. There is not the same sharp divide like you have with your urbane centres and your hillbilly states. Australians are way more egalitarian than Americans.
    Come visit, and amaze yourself with what the other states offer! You won't get to Western Australia right now, but that's a treasure box for later!

    1. Dennis Guest

      @glenn t, and @R90, as an Australian that has actually lived in the United States, Ben/Lucky is not far off the mark. Australians outside of Sydney and Melbourne are not as welcoming as you'd suggest. Threats of violence and hatred from WA residents towards even their own eastern states compatriots, as well as underlying racism towards Americans from Australians in general, suggests there is a lot of "hillbilly" mentality around. Contrastingly, I found Americans were...

      @glenn t, and @R90, as an Australian that has actually lived in the United States, Ben/Lucky is not far off the mark. Australians outside of Sydney and Melbourne are not as welcoming as you'd suggest. Threats of violence and hatred from WA residents towards even their own eastern states compatriots, as well as underlying racism towards Americans from Australians in general, suggests there is a lot of "hillbilly" mentality around. Contrastingly, I found Americans were the ones that were far more welcoming of me and other overseas visitors than the other way around. So maybe it's you that needs to stay out of making comments that you are not qualified to make.

    2. R90 New Member

      @ Dennis
      So because you lived in America, you are more qualified to speak on behalf of all Australian's attitudes and views towards a particular topic? Those are some HUGE generalisations you've just made. Everyone's experience is different, and thankfully I can say I have not experienced anything like what you've mentioned in our beautiful country.

      There is good and bad in every country, not just Australia, but making sweeping generalisations like that...

      @ Dennis
      So because you lived in America, you are more qualified to speak on behalf of all Australian's attitudes and views towards a particular topic? Those are some HUGE generalisations you've just made. Everyone's experience is different, and thankfully I can say I have not experienced anything like what you've mentioned in our beautiful country.

      There is good and bad in every country, not just Australia, but making sweeping generalisations like that (and what Lucky does) is both damaging and pointless.

    3. platy Guest

      @ Dennis

      Since it's unlikely tourists will be visiting WA in the short term, they'll be quite safe from the folks you claim are hate filled and violent prone.

      On the other hand, here in Far North Queensland, we round up any US tourists in little buses and ship them off to face primeval conditions in ancient rainforests, encourage them to swim in crocodile infested waters just to see some stinging coral reef, take...

      @ Dennis

      Since it's unlikely tourists will be visiting WA in the short term, they'll be quite safe from the folks you claim are hate filled and violent prone.

      On the other hand, here in Far North Queensland, we round up any US tourists in little buses and ship them off to face primeval conditions in ancient rainforests, encourage them to swim in crocodile infested waters just to see some stinging coral reef, take their mug shots holding koala bears with long sharp claws, and present them with a diet of large insects and kangaroos. We subject them to a barrage of unintelligible Aussie lingo and buy them beer that has all of the sugar turned into alcohol.

      It is truly a most horrifying welcome and one that only hillbilly Queenslanders have the capacity to offer.

      As an Australian who has actually lived in the US, has family living there, @ glenn t and @R90, have absolutely nailed it, so maybe it's you that needs to stay out of making comments about other states and their people.

    4. Mh Diamond

      Pretty obvious Dennis is right... just look at AA56 below.

    5. AA56 Guest

      @Mh
      I am just a very proud Western Australian and only want to protect our lifestyle from virus ridden tourists.

    6. platy Guest

      @ Dennis

      Anyway, based upon another thread, I thought you were leaving, although you were moaning that you were stuck in WA, when you're not...?

  8. AA56 Guest

    At least the tourists remain locked out from entering Western Australia. We don't need their money, as it's our massive mineral wealth that drives and is propping up the Australian economy. There will be another wave of COVID sweep over the Eastern States as the border opens. Thankfully not in Western Australia though.

  9. R90 New Member

    'What’s noteworthy is that a significant percentage of Australians don’t support borders reopening'

    Would love to know how you reached this conclusion? Your Australian posts are always dripping with misinformation and disdain (this one probably the least in a while).

    You really should stop reporting on Australia & Australian politics, etc. You're really out of your depth when it comes to this stuff, and as a foreigner, your intake isn't helpful or insightful.

    1. crosscourt Guest

      I do agree with R90

    2. platy Guest

      @ R90

      Possibly some external commentators are struggling to keep up with events in Australia. The local game has changed radically in a matter of weeks. And some are coming off a base of gross misinformation and prejudice. @Lucky is far from the worst.

  10. Ed Guest

    Expect a booster requirement to come in at short or no notice, VIC government has been pushing for fully vaxxed to mean boosted. Immediately post-election (May 21 latest) seems most like.

    As ever though, this has come at short notice so the technology to prove you are vaxxed for businesses will be a mess. Each state has its own app (and own requirements). Just went to Singapore and loading in vax certification into the...

    Expect a booster requirement to come in at short or no notice, VIC government has been pushing for fully vaxxed to mean boosted. Immediately post-election (May 21 latest) seems most like.

    As ever though, this has come at short notice so the technology to prove you are vaxxed for businesses will be a mess. Each state has its own app (and own requirements). Just went to Singapore and loading in vax certification into the check in and tracing app was a breeze, I doubt anyone in Australian govt. IT has given a thought to how this works, nor has DFAT to mutual recognition arrangements.

    Really happy to be welcoming friends from overseas, though.

    1. Ed Guest

      Actually Booster could be a requirement from as early as this week if ATAGI makes a determination before National Cabinet meets. If I were making plans to come to Australia, I'd assume boosted is a requirement (as well as being a good idea)

  11. Jdx Guest

    I don’t think visitors have anything to be worried about. Australians, especially Sydneysiders (most of them) are so friendly, open and helpful to tourists. We are just horrible to each other, so no worries there.

    1. JDee Diamond

      As a Melbourne resident, by 'Sydneysiders' I think you mean 'Greater Northern Victorians' - it's an upgrade after all ;-)

  12. Watson Gold

    Glad I snagged some UA award space for end of March when I had the chance. I'm sure they're all gone now.

  13. Jan Guest

    This is more believable than the NZ announcement, especially with how they essentially gave up on zero COVID.

    Double vax only (no booster, no expiration) means it may be more 'open' than some of our European friends as far as entry.

    But what about the situation on the ground? Masks, social distancing, restaurant rules, etc.? Europe has also started to abolish these.

    1. platy Guest

      @ Jan

      Rules are set by each state government, so anybody intending to visit would be best advised to check on the relevant state government website COVID pages.

      Here is Queensland you are required to wear a mask in:

      - all indoor workplaces
      - public transport and rideshare
      - supermarkets and retail shops
      - hospitality venues including pubs, clubs and cafes
      - cinemas and theatres
      - indoor stadium, sports arena...

      @ Jan

      Rules are set by each state government, so anybody intending to visit would be best advised to check on the relevant state government website COVID pages.

      Here is Queensland you are required to wear a mask in:

      - all indoor workplaces
      - public transport and rideshare
      - supermarkets and retail shops
      - hospitality venues including pubs, clubs and cafes
      - cinemas and theatres
      - indoor stadium, sports arena or sports centre
      - gyms and sport activities
      - vulnerable settings like hospitals and aged care
      - schools, childcare and other education facilities
      - airports and on planes

      You do not need to wear a mask outdoors if you can remain 1.5 metres away from others that are not members of your household.

      Children under 12 years and people affected by a medical condition or disability do not lawfully have to wear a face mask.

      There is a lengthy list of exceptions (see the qld.gov.au website pages on health and wellbeing).

      You have to download an application with a QR code reader to scan to record entry to various places (gyms, restaurants, bars etc). The definition of close contact is very "loose" now - basically more than four hours in an enclosed environment with a COVID positive case - you are unlikely to have to isolate (7 days with a day 6 test) unless you are staying in the same house with a positive case.

      The QR check in may no longer be in play by the time tourists arrive. Expect to prove your vax status - not sure how that's going to work yet for overseas tourists.

      Other local restrictions are unlikely to affect tourists unless you have need to visit aged care facilities or hospitals - check current state rules, if this applies.

      Rapid Antigen Tests have been in short supply and hard to find in local pharmacies. That is slowly improving. If you need some RATs for the homeward journey, factor in carrying a couple as may be needed just in case.

      Omicron has spread easily through crowded groups - many people I know caught the virus attending events such as NYE at very crowded local bars, etc. So social distancing is prudent (and required to avoid wearing a mask).

      Visitors may find the situation here far more relaxed than they expected.

      IMHO the rather liberal definition of "vaccinated" could be tweaked later - timeline since vaccination and need for a booster are the obvious potential changes. if you are up to date with vaccinations, hopefully that wouldn't cause any issues.

    2. Jan Guest

      @platy thanks for the wealth of info. I am up to date on vaccinations as of today but as I have yet to be boosted, eventually I will fall from grace (as far as European standards go, anyway). I am willing to wait and see how Omicron continues to develop.

    3. platy Guest

      @ Jan

      Looks like the state of VIC will require booster...announced a few minutes ago...Omicron numbers falling fast in Australia generally...

  14. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Great news, I want to visit family but will wait till later in the year before booking anything just in case things change.

  15. JDS Guest

    I was supposed to visit Australia in Dec 2019, but cancelled (literally an hour before I was due to set off for the airport) over the bush fires. It’s fine, I thought, I’ll just go next year. Anyway…

    So tempted to try again now. What puts me off slightly is the risk of another closing of borders before I go, new variants etc. but also track and trace. What if I go to a cafe...

    I was supposed to visit Australia in Dec 2019, but cancelled (literally an hour before I was due to set off for the airport) over the bush fires. It’s fine, I thought, I’ll just go next year. Anyway…

    So tempted to try again now. What puts me off slightly is the risk of another closing of borders before I go, new variants etc. but also track and trace. What if I go to a cafe in Sydney my first morning in Australia for a flat white, then get pinged as a close contact and told to isolate.

    1. Mike C Gold

      You won't. Close contacts in NSW are only in households, so any contacts in retail settings will be casual (and no testing requirements) if they are even collecting the data. Qld and the ACT won't require checking in after this week, and NSW is unlikely to be any different soon.

    2. MDA Guest

      Victoria open for business. Close contacts same as NSW. Masks still mandatory indoors. Still need to check in everywhere although in reality it is really only small businesses ensuring you do. Need to be double vaxed to eat at restaurants which as you need to be vaxed to visit will make no difference to you.

  16. Morgan Diamond

    Yeah good news and with almost 95% of us double dosed and omicron having just peaked and on the downward trend I reckon its time, that being said unfortunately for us West Australians we are still locked in for the time being.

    1. glenn t Diamond

      That's because your vaccination rates are lagging the rest of the country because you're all too complacent and comfortable in your bubble!
      I think if a re-opening future date was announced, you'd get off your bums and get vaxxed, right?

  17. Mike Guest

    This is indeed great news, hopefully this will not change - with potentially upcoming variants.
    Only what is not clear is those with the Johnson/Janssen vaccine - are they considered fully vaccinated?

    1. Dennis Guest

      @Mike, yes Johnson/Janssen is accepted by Australia for overseas visitors. Below is a link to the full list:

      https://www.tga.gov.au/international-covid-19-vaccines-recognised-australia

    2. Dennis Guest

      Actually there are more accepted vaccines than what's on that list. I've put another link below for those that wish to check it out. Basically it includes many of the major vaccines out there now, including Sinovac, Sinopharm and Sputnik.

      https://covid19.homeaffairs.gov.au/vaccinated-travellers

  18. SG Guest

    “given the highly contagious omicron variant and lack of natural immunity.“

    Please just take out the word natural, since there is a lack of immunity altogether

    1. platy Guest

      @ SG

      This may be true for antibodies, but possibly not true for T cells.

  19. Steven E Guest

    Fantastic news finally !! and no doubt a political win for Morrison seeking re- election in May

    1. Mike C Gold

      It will be a positive for him (I think) but I'm less sure that it will deliver an electoral advantage. That, in as much as anything is a plus there, will have come from the opening of the borders to Australian residents last year. Relatively few Australians will be directly advantaged by inbound tourism to the extent that it will sway their vote.

      As to Ben's comment on the response to visitors, I doubt there...

      It will be a positive for him (I think) but I'm less sure that it will deliver an electoral advantage. That, in as much as anything is a plus there, will have come from the opening of the borders to Australian residents last year. Relatively few Australians will be directly advantaged by inbound tourism to the extent that it will sway their vote.

      As to Ben's comment on the response to visitors, I doubt there will be any hostility from the locals. Most people will distinguish between their preference for when the borders open and their attitude to the people who come here as a result of that opening.

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Mike C Gold

You won't. Close contacts in NSW are only in households, so any contacts in retail settings will be casual (and no testing requirements) if they are even collecting the data. Qld and the ACT won't require checking in after this week, and NSW is unlikely to be any different soon.

2
SG Guest

“given the highly contagious omicron variant and lack of natural immunity.“ Please just take out the word natural, since there is a lack of immunity altogether

2
R90 New Member

@ Dennis So because you lived in America, you are more qualified to speak on behalf of all Australian's attitudes and views towards a particular topic? Those are some HUGE generalisations you've just made. Everyone's experience is different, and thankfully I can say I have not experienced anything like what you've mentioned in our beautiful country. There is good and bad in every country, not just Australia, but making sweeping generalisations like that (and what Lucky does) is both damaging and pointless.

1
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