Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday announced that his country is reopening its borders to all visiting travellers from February 21.
“It’s almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia,” Morrison said after a meeting of the national security cabinet, ending one of the world’s strictest and longest-running pandemic travel restrictions.
He announced the borders will reopen to all visa holders “on the 21st of February of this year,” adding, “if you’re double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia.”
Australia had closed its borders in March 2020 in the hope of protecting the island continent against a surging global Covid 19 pandemic.
For most of the time since then, Australians have been barred from leaving and only a handful of visitors have been granted exemptions to enter.
The rules have stranded nationals overseas, split families, hammered the country’s multi-billion-dollar tourist industry, and prompted often bitter debates about Australia’s status as a modern, open and outward-looking nation.
According to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, every month of border closures has cost businesses an estimated US$2.6 billion.
(With inputs from agencies)