Australia to open its borders by Christmas, tourism minister claims

·2-min read
A person runs in Sydney  (Getty Images)
A person runs in Sydney (Getty Images)

Australia is on track to open its borders by Christmas, the country’s tourism minister has said.

On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said the country should open up within months.

“I do empathize with the Australians who have been denied the opportunity to travel overseas this year,” he said.

He added: “It’s another reason why everyone should get vaccinated and we have to stick to the national plan that will see our international border open up -- at this rate by Christmas at the latest.”

It comes days after Mr Tehan laid out a roadmap for the country’s reopening.

He said one of the most important was to pass the 80 per cent national vaccination rate. Currently, about 38 per cent of Australians had received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine.

“It’s incredibly important that we’re doing that preparatory work,” he said.

Australia closed its international border in March last year in response to the pandemic.

Citizens and permanent residents are allowed to return but must undergo a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Last month, Australia launched the It’s Our Best Shot for Travel campaign which aimed to encourage people to get the vaccine in order to open its borders.

“We need to claim back our way of life so that we can visit friends and relatives, get back into the workplace, get our kids back to school, travel domestically and internationally again, and welcome the world back to enjoy all that Australia has to offer,” Phillipa Harrison, managing director of Tourism Australia said at the time.

Earlier this month, Australian officials said they would trial a home quarantine system for fully vaccinated international travellers arriving in Sydney.

“This is the next step in our plan to safely reopen, and to stay safely open,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Even with the fast-moving Delta outbreak, Australia has largely avoided high numbers seen in many comparable countries.

The country has faced 82,000 cases and 1,141 deaths.

They have combated the coronavirus pandemic with swift lockdowns and hotel quarantine for international travellers.

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