Daily US Times: Australia has announced that it will reopen its international border from November, giving long-anticipated freedoms to vaccinated citizens and their relatives.
Australia has had some of the world’s strictest border rules since March 2020 – even banning its own people from leaving the country.
The policy has been praised for helping to suppress the coronavirus outbreak, but it has also controversially separated families.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “It’s time to give Australians their lives back.”
Australia has recorded more than 1,300 deaths from coronavirus and more than 107,000 cases of infection.
Mr Morrison told a press briefing on Friday that people would be eligible to travel when their state’s vaccination rate hit 80%.
Travel wouldn’t immediately be open to foreign citizens, but the government said it was working “towards welcoming tourists back to our shores”.
Currently, people can leave the country only for exceptional reasons such as visiting a dying relative or essential work.
Entry is permitted for Australians and others with exemptions, but there are tight caps on arrival numbers. This has left tens of thousands of people stranded overseas.
The Prime Minister said Australia’s mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine – which costs each traveller $2,100 – would be replaced by seven days of home quarantine for vaccinated Australians or permanent residents.
Travellers who are not vaccinated must still quarantine for 14 days in hotels.
Australian carrier Qantas responded by announcing it would restart its international flying a month earlier. It had already put flights to major overseas destinations on sale from 18 December.
Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne are currently in lockdown due to outbreaks of the virus.