Australia is finally reopening on 21 February 2022 to fully vaccinated travelers, after nearly two years of being almost entirely closed.
Immediate family members of Australian residents and citizens have been allowed since November 2021 (and eligible visa holders since December) but as of 21 February, anyone with a visa can visit. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that “if you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back.”
It’s unsurprising that bookings have soared. Naveen Dittakavi, founder and CEO of Next Vacay (an online search system to find the best flight deals in real-time) said that “searches for ‘Australia borders open’ have increased by 1,900% in the U.S., while searches for ‘Australia open to tourists’ increased by 1,750% since the announcement of the reopening of the Australian border to international tourists.”
Dittakavi adds that the strong borders have reaped internal rewards. “Australia has shown a strong public health response towards Covid-19, with about 80% of eligible adults in the country fully vaccinated and just over 4,200 deaths—a figure they can attribute to their strict border rules. This has probably been one of the world’s most rigorous border controls we have seen throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”
However, there are some things that travelers should consider before immediately booking a trip, as reported by The Telegraph. The first is when to go, as summer will end soon (meaning that visitors would need to go quickly to catch the best weather) although The Great Barrier Reef is better visited from June to September.
Another issue is that Western Australia is still under lockdown, which is a sizeable part of the country that won’t be accessible unless arrivals enter quarantine for 14 days (7 of those in a hotel). And neighbor New Zealand is still out of bounds–it recently announced its five-step plan to reopen to tourists by July. It might not be worth traveling if these two areas can’t be included in any itinerary.
You also have to be fully vaccinated to enter, so this complicates things for teenagers. Under 12s are counted as being fully vaccinated, but 12-17 year old visitors might fall outside of both categories. Different states are putting in their own criteria for this age group, so travelers should check first. Some states and territories might, as reported by The Telegraph, allow unvaccinated teens or partially vaccinated teens to enter.
Arrivals must show proof of being fully vaccinated and also take a pre-departure test–either a PCR test taken within 3 days of leaving or a Rapid Antigen Test, taken no more than 24 hours before.