Governments across the globe scrambled to reinforce border restrictions in response to the discovery of COVID 19 omicron variant. Australia followed suit halting plans to reopen international borders to skilled workers and students. What does this mean for travel plans to Australia in the near future? Let us dig deeper.
What changed with the discovery of the omicron variant?
The Government reinstated border restrictions on some countries within southern Africa. This is because the omicron variant was first detected in the southern African region. The countries are: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Namibia, Mozambique, Lesotho and Eswatini.
Meanwhile, the Government halted plans to allow fully vaccinated eligible visa holders from entering Australia without applying for travel exemption. The eligible visa holders’ category includes skilled migrants and international students.
International visitors (fully vaccinated) from Japan and South Korea were meant to return in December as well. But, for the moment such plans have been put on hold.
What does this mean to visa holders planning to travel to Australia?
People who have been to any of the above mentioned countries and are not Australian citizens, permanent residents or immediate family members will not be able to enter Australia. And, anyone who is eligible to enter the country would need to go into supervised quarantine. The 14 day quarantine would be subject to jurisdictional arrangements. The restrictions apply to anyone who had already come to Australia, and has been visiting any of the 9 countries mentioned.
Meanwhile, New South Wales announced that returnees from these countries should go into hotel quarantine for 14 days.
What happens to arrivals from other countries?
All other international travellers to Victoria, NSW and the ACT have to isolate for 72 hours. And, they must get a COVID 19 test as a precaution. They can opt to get the test done at their residence or accommodation instead of hotel quarantine.
Reportedly, Victoria is considering the reintroduction of a 14 day quarantine for international arrivals.
And, South Australia has reintroduced certain border restrictions. Accordingly, International arrivals and visitors from high-risk areas within Australia must quarantine for 14 days. Anyone arriving from low-risk locations has to take a COVID 19 test 72 hours before they arrive in SA. Then they must produce proof of a negative test.
Queensland will continue with the 14 day quarantine requirement. And, the authorities there are planning to monitor updates, but have not announced changes to the reopening dates.