Welcome back, mate: Australia reopens borders to world after roughly two-year COVID restriction

Tourists vaccinated against COVID-19 now allowed to enter land down under

Updated: February 21, 2022 - 1:24pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Australia on Monday reopened its international borders to travelers vaccinated against COVID-19 after nearly two years of pandemic-related closings prevented tourists from entering the country.

In March 2020, Australia closed its borders to tourists and most non-residents to prevent the spread of the virus.

However, on Monday over 50 international flights will reach Australia, including 27 landing in Sydney, the country's largest city.

The arrivals will allow the tourism and hospitality sectors to begin rebuilding after being decimated by COVID restrictions. About 9.5 million international visitors traveled to Australia in 2019, according to Tourism Australia.

"The return of double vaccinated international visitors will reinvigorate Australia's tourism sector, that supports 660,000 jobs and contributed $60.4 billion to the economy in 2018-19," said the country's office of the minister for trade, tourism and investment. "The first visitors back in Sydney will be greeted with gifts of Vegemite and toy koalas and kangaroos, an iconic Surf Life Saving crew and a DJ playing Australia's favorite tunes."

Travelers must show proof of full vaccination to enter Australia without having to quarantine in a hotel. Unvaccinated travelers must obtain an exemption from Australian authorities to be allowed entry and upon arrival must pay to quarantine in a hotel for up to 14 days.

In many cases, Australis's COVID restrictions forced loved ones to be separated for months. Many emotional reunions to take place in airports across the country Monday.

"It is a very exciting day, one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, from the day that I first shut that border right at the start of the pandemic," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.