Australia Lifts Ban on Unvaccinated Visitors

The latest changes to the nation’s border policy signal an end to some of its last remaining Covid-19 restrictions.

Sydney’s iconic Harbour Bridge and Opera House at sunset. (Photo: Photoholgic/Unsplash)

Senior officials in Canberra have announced a major update to the 2015 Biosecurity Act, which has effectively barred unvaccinated foreign tourists since Australia began reopening its borders late last year. From 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday (July 6), the government will scrap the requirement for non-citizens and permanent residents to either be fully vaccinated or obtain a travel exemption to enter the country. Australian Health Minister Mark Butler said the decision was in line with the latest advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly, and stated it was “no longer necessary for travelers to declare their vaccine status as part of our management of Covid.”

Up till now, incoming visitors and returning residents alike have been required to fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) with their vaccination status, contact details, and travel history for the previous 14 days. They must also consent to quarantine and testing if necessary. Canberra says the DPD is being dropped from Wednesday, though local news outlets have reported that it may be adopted again in the future using a paperless format.

Notably, the change in government regulations does not mean the end of Covid-19 rules for airlines and shipping operators. Mask mandates are set to remain in place for both domestic flights within Australia and inbound international flights. Post-pandemic Australia is grappling with staffing shortages in the tourism and hospitality sectors as well as delays at airports; it’s hoped that rescinding the vaccination requirement will encourage the arrival of more visitors and skilled workers from abroad.

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