Australia eases restrictions on international travel – sources



A near-empty domestic terminal at Sydney Airport is seen after surrounding states closed their borders with New South Wales in response to an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Sydney, Australia on 21 December 2020. REUTERS / Loren Elliott

CANBERRA / SYDNEY, October 1 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Scott Morrison will announce detailed plans on Friday to allow Australians to travel abroad, two sources told Reuters, easing some of the toughest COVID-19 restrictions on the nation. world.

The lifting of the international travel ban will be linked to the establishment of a home quarantine in Australia’s eight states and territories, the two sources said, meaning parts of the country will reopen sooner than they are. others.

The first phase of the plan will focus on citizens and permanent residents allowed to leave Australia, with other changes expected to allow foreign travelers to enter the country.

Morrison closed the international border in March 2020. Since then, a limited number of citizens and permanent residents have been allowed to enter and immediately undertake a mandatory 14-day quarantine period at a hotel at their own expense. There have also been a few high-profile exceptions granted for commercial purposes, including Hollywood actors to film movies and TV shows.

Morrison’s federal government has previously said it wants all national and international borders reopened when the national immunization rate for people over the age of 16 hits 80%, expected by the end of next month.

However, an outbreak fueled by a Delta variant that has locked up the major cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for weeks has divided state and territory rulers. Some presidents of virus-free regions across the country have indicated they will challenge the federal plan.

It was not immediately clear how states would respond to the latest federal plan to allow citizens and residents to leave Australia and complete a seven-day home quarantine upon their return.

As part of the plan, Australians who are not vaccinated will have to undergo 14 days of quarantine in a hotel upon their return, the two sources told Reuters.

“Further work is being done on vaccinated foreign travelers,” one of the sources told Reuters.

A spokesperson for Morrison declined to comment.

Australia will also expand its list of authorized COVID-19 vaccines, allowing thousands of citizens and permanent residents still abroad to return through the home quarantine system, a source said.

Australia currently only recognizes vaccines produced by Pfizer (PFE.N), Moderna (MRNA.O) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L). The source said Sinovac and Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, would be added to the list.

Australia has recorded just over 107,000 cases of COVID-19 and around 1,300 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Its strict border closure has been credited with keeping both deaths and infections relatively low.

Reporting by Renju Jose and Jamie Freed in Sydney and Colin Packham in Canberra; edited by Richard Pullin and Jane Wardell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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