Sydney, Australia, Feb 7 (EFE).- Australia announced on Monday that it will reopen its international borders to fully vaccinated tourists from Feb. 21 following a nearly two-year long closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Australia is seeing a surge in cases due to an outbreak linked to the highly contagious omicron variant at the end of the year that has mainly affected care homes and led to shortages of essential workers.
The country has recorded a total of some 2.4 million Covid-19 infections, including over 4,250 deaths and more than 300,000 active cases.
“The condition is you must be double vaccinated to come to Australia. That’s the rule. Everyone is expected to abide by it,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra on Monday after a Cabinet meeting.
Australia, which closed its borders in March 2020, had begun to gradually open them in November to citizens and permanent residents and then to skilled workers and international students, as well as travelers from New Zealand, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, but the omicron outbreak at the end of the year slowed down these plans.
The Canberra government requires travelers entering Australia – which expelled world no. 1 tennis player, Novak Djokovic of Serbia, for not being vaccinated against Covid-19 – to show that they have been fully vaccinated or present a valid medical exemption.
Unvaccinated travelers wanting to enter Australian territory must request a special travel permit and if they receive the go-ahead they must undergo quarantine at designated centers, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said at the press conference.
Although the federal government has called for reopening the country, each state has the power to implement its own measures.
This has allowed the state of Western Australia to keep its borders closed until its authorities deem it appropriate. EFE