Australians hoping to leave the country will soon be permitted to travel without an exemption from the Department of Home Affairs, removing one of the last bureaucratic hurdles between tourists and their summer getaways.
The nation’s border was officially shut in March 2020, as the federal government sought to limit Australia’s exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic circling the globe.
Under that closed-border policy, anyone hoping to leave the country for essential business or urgent personal travel had to seek permission from the Department of Home Affairs.
Nine News reports that Health Minister Greg Hunt has found those permissions are no longer required, and signed off on the rule change Tuesday night.
Under the revamped rules, fully vaccinated Australians will be permitted to travel internationally without the government’s sign-off from 1 November — the same date New South Wales intends to end its quarantine program, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enter the state without first spending 14 days in isolation.
In a statement, Hunt said the decision was informed by medical advice, given the significant proportion of Australians who are now fully vaccinated.
“We want Australians to be able to reunite with their loved ones, whether it’s for births, weddings, or just to visit family,” Hunt said.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said she looked forward to “further easing restrictions over coming weeks and months as more and more Australians become fully vaccinated”.
“Before the end of the year, we anticipate welcoming fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students,” she added.
The rule changes will provide certainty to Australian tourists, who were free to book travel to destinations across the planet but still required a final sign-off from the federal government.
Further good news comes by way of Singapore, which has announced fully vaccinated Australians will be permitted to enter the nation without quarantining from 8 November.
Australia joins around 10 other nations on Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, with travellers free to apply for permits from 1 November.
The long-awaited announcement means Singapore may be easier to reach than Australian states like Tasmania, which has signalled it will not permit domestic travellers to enter without quarantining until mid-December.