For the first time in nearly 600 days, Australians are allowed to travel overseas without COVID-19 restrictions. They used to require government permission to travel abroad as part of strict measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
More than 18 months later, Australia is reconnecting with the world as the number of vaccinations increases. There were tears of reunification at Sydney airport as the first foreign passengers landed after the restrictions were lifted.
Now Australians are free to travel abroad without official permission.
Returning travelers flying home to New South Wales and Victoria no longer face mandatory hotel quarantines.
However, they must be double vaccinated and only Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families can return home at this stage. Australia will reopen non-quarantine entry for fully vaccinated Singaporeans from 21 November, but it is unclear when other foreign nationals will be allowed entry, which have been largely banned since March 2020.
Thousands of Australians have found themselves overseas during the pandemic due to the world’s toughest border controls. The authorities have set limits on the number of tourists allowed to return due to the restrictions of the quarantine system.
Melbourne Airport is also preparing to resume massive passenger traffic.
Chief Executive Officer Lyell Strumby said the border closures due to the pandemic were hard on staff.
“We didn’t actually stop flying, so we were able to keep things going and make sure everything was in top shape,” Strumby said. “But in the whole series that we went through, stop-start, it was really hard. Particularly for airport employees. Typically 20,000 people work at the airport. I think that several times there were only 500 of us. So it was very difficult for these people. “
Internal border controls remain in parts of Australia. For example, residents of Sydney and Melbourne can now fly freely to Paris, France, but not to Perth in Western Australia.
Travelers from New South Wales and Victoria, who have been at the center of delta variant outbreaks this year, can only enter Western Australia with an approved exemption permit and must be double-vaccinated. Queensland state officials are planning to ease restrictions on the internal border on December 17.
During the pandemic, 170,000 cases of coronavirus were diagnosed in Australia, 1,700 people died. More than 77% of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated.