Australia could be welcoming back international tourists, students and backpackers by the end of this year, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison told the House of Representatives he “fully anticipates” the return of double-vaccinated overseas travellers, including backpackers and students to Australia, by the end of the year.
“We will be concluding very, very shortly our arrangements with Singapore, which next month will see particularly students and business travellers who are double vaccinated being the first to come to Australia out of Singapore,” he told Parliament on Wednesday.
“And we welcome the announcements made today in Singapore about Australians being able to travel there from 8 November.”
Singapore said it would extend its vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme to Australia for entry into the destination from 8 November 2021 on the same day Morrison made the remarks, with fully-vaccinated Australians allowed to enter Singapore without quarantine for all purposes of travel, after undergoing a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
“The national plan is working. Australia’s taking off on Monday. Australia has passed the UK in single-dose vaccinations. We are moving forward strongly under the national plan,” Morrison said.
The first international passenger flights have taken off from Sydney airport this morning after Australia’s overseas travel ban was lifted overnight.
QF12 from Los Angeles touched down in Sydney at 6:00am today, followed by Singapore Airlines’ SQ221 from Singapore at 6:05am and Japan Airlines’ JL51 from Tokyo at 6:30am with no border or quarantine restrictions for fully-vaccinated travellers.
The first flight to arrive in Australia this morning was Singapore Airlines’ SQ212, which landed in Sydney at 9:05am, followed by United Airlines’ UA842 from LA at 10:20am and Delta’s DL40 also from LA at 11:20am.
QF1 (Sydney to London via Darwin) will be the first Qantas International flight to depart out of Sydney at 6.30pm.
So far, the countries Australians will be allowed to visit without having to undergo quarantine upon arrival include the UK, the US, Canada, Italy, Greece, Germany and South Africa, according to ABC News.
Since the government closed the international border in March 2020, Australians have been barred from leaving unless they obtain a special exemption.
Queensland will keep its quarantine requirements in place until 17 December, when international travellers who are fully vaccinated and have returned a negative test will be allowed to home quarantine. It will scrap quarantine for fully-vaccinated travellers once its vaccine rate reaches 90 per cent, most likely in early 2022.
With most states now providing clear reopening dates, international airlines have begun announcing their resumption of Australian flights, with a handful promising to return much earlier than expected.
Featured image source: Facebook/scottmorrison4cook