Tourism

Australia to scrap pre-departure testing as restriction expiration looms

Australia will scrap pre-departure testing requirements, marking the end of the country’s strict travel restrictions after two long years.

The Minister for Health, Greg Hunt revealed he will not renew the Biosecurity Emergency Determination when it lapses on 17 April, the same date that restrictions on cruise vessels entering Australian territories will be lifted.

After the determination has lapsed, overseas travellers will no longer need to provide a negative COVID-19 test before they enter Australia.

“Two years and one month to the day after those laws will have been put in place, there will be no emergency powers, there will be no pre-flight testing,” Hunt said.

“Non-emergency provisions, which will continue through non-emergency measures, will be the requirement to show proof of double vaccination for entry or exit into the country.

“Again, very strong medical advice to that effect, and also the continuation of masks on domestic and international flights.”

These measures will be implemented under the non-emergency provisions in the Biosecurity Act, with the requirements for maritime arrivals also aligned with those on airlines, as part of the safety protocols for the resumption of cruising.

Hunt said he had spoken with the CEOs of both Qantas and Virgin Australia so the airlines could prepare for the change.

“But we also took the medical advice of the Chief Medical Officer on this, and that was the view that we progressively take away those items which are no longer required and both medical advice and the strong view of the airlines,” he said.

Hunt added that despite a recent increase in cases due to the omicron variant, hospital admissions and ICU cases have not had the same increase, which he said was a “promising sign”.


Featured image: iStock/SDI Productions



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