The coronavirus which appeared in December 2019 in China is today a global issue. It has crossed borders and several countries are now in complete isolation to stop the spread of the virus. Since March 2020, the Australian Prime Minister announced the implementation of strong measures to slow the spread of the virus in the country. Among those measure, Australia decided to close its borders to foreigners. Here are some information on the measures implemented to date and the current situation.
Measures implemented by Australia
From March 2020, the country has implemented strict measures to fight the Covid pandemic both nationally and internationally. States have closed their borders making it impossible to move between them without a permit or go into government approved mandatory quarantine. Today the states have finally open borders to one another, so it is possible and easy to move around the country.
The measures in place have worked well and the country has been little affected by the virus. To date, there are fewer than 1,000 deaths linked to Covid-19 across the country. Here are some of the measures applied to date in Australia.
Since 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members can travel to Australia. Borders are closed to all foreigners.
All people travelling to Australia on flights must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR result at the time of check-in. Passengers on all international flights must wear a face mask during their flight and while in an Australian airport.
You are automatically exempt from the travel restrictions and can enter Australia if you are:
- an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia
- an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
- a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia and their immediate family members
- a person who has been in New Zealand or Australia for 14 days or more immediately prior to arrival by air in Australia
- a diplomat accredited to Australia (subclass 995 visa)
- a person transiting Australia for 72 hours or less
- airline crew, maritime crew including marine pilots
- a person who holds a Business Innovation and Investment visa (subclass 188).
You may be granted an individual exemption if you are:
- a foreign national travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government for the purpose of assisting in the COVID-19 response
- a foreign national whose entry into Australia would be in the national interest
- providing critical or specialist medical services, including air ambulance, medical evacuations and delivering critical medical supplies
- a foreign national with critical skills or working in a critical sector in Australia
- a foreign national sponsored by your employer to work in Australia in an occupation on the Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL)
- military personnel
- travelling for compassionate and compelling reasons.
The exemption request must be lodged online and you must provide appropriate evidence to support your claim.
You need to apply for an exemption at least two weeks, but not more than two months, before your planned travel.
All travellers to Australia are required to go into government approved mandatory quarantine for 14 days. You will be tested for COVID-19 in the first 48 hours and then between days 10 to 12 of quarantine.
For Australian citizens, permanent residents or immediate family, and anyone entering Australia a 14 days quarantine is mandatory. Quarantine hotels have been arranged for all new arrivals. Quarantine’s fee is the responsibility of the traveler ($3000 for 1 person). The quarantine fee includes hotel accommodation and meals.
Since April 19, 2021, Australia has opened a Travel Safe Zone with New Zealand. It is now possible to travel between these two countries “freely” without having to quarantine upon arrival. If you are in New Zealand, you can apply for a WHV, tourist or student visa to come to Australia.
New Visas’ application and visas granted before the pandemic
Borders are currently closed to foreigners. The government has not announced a date for the reopening of the borders, however, it is likely that the border will not reopen until 2022. On March 2, 2021, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that the border closure was extended at least until June 17, 2021.
Those who do not have a visa can still apply online. Once your WHV is granted, you will be able to travel to Australia as soon as the entry ban is lifted. Remember that once your visa has been granted, you have one year to travel to Australia. For student visas, you can always prepare your travel to Australia. Students are likely to be the first to be able to return to Australia.
For all those who have a current visa and have not been able to enter the country, or those who have a visa that they have not been able to use check out our dedicated article : Working Holiday Australia : Visa refund and waivers announced by the government
There is a ban on all overseas travel for Australian citizens and permanent residents, unless travelling to New Zealand or if an exemption has been granted. Indeed, as of 19 April 2021, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is permitted. You can travel between those two countries without having to request an exemption.
Foreigners are free to leave the country without asking an exemption.
Current situation in Australia
States and territories are now reopened among themselves. Which means you can travel from state to state without any problem. To enter some states, be aware that it can be necessary to obtain a border Pass or complete a declaration. Each state applies different rules so it is better to visit the officiel website of the state you would like to visit.
The country has been little affected by the Covid pandemic. Victoria has been under strict lockdown for several weeks, there have also been short-term lock downs (3 or 5 days) in some cities such as Perth or Brisbane, following cases of covid.
The country does not impose any restrictions on wearing a mask (with some exceptions), shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, etc. are opened. Gatherings of people are permitted. Rules vary by state, so it’s a good idea to check the rules that apply to the state you are in.
To date, the country counts 29,559 cases of covid since January 2020 and 910 deaths across the country. A large majority of cases are found in Victoria and New South Wales.
Vaccine Rollout in Australia
The vaccine rollout in Australia has started on February 22, 2021.
Australia will use mainly two different vaccines, both requiring two injections. These are the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine and the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. A joint statement from Department of Health Secretary and Australian Government Chief Medical Officer about the recent AstraZeneca has been recently released. It states that Pfizer vaccine will be preferred over AstraZeneca vaccine in adults under 50 years of age. Following cases of people having developed thrombosis (blood clotting) after receiving the jab, AstraZeneca is therefore not recommended for people under 50 years of age.
Australia, which had mainly relied on AstraZeneca is now behind on its vaccine rollout. The country is thus awaiting new doses of Pfizer which should arrive by the end of 2021.
Moreover, Morrison recently suggested that the priority would be to allow vaccinated Australians to fly in and out of the country.
What is the Coronavirus ?
In late December 2019, in China, doctors began to see a new type of viral pneumonia for a few people who worked, or had visited a market in the Wuhan province. This disease, called Covid-19, is caused by SARS-CoV-2, a virus that belongs to the coronavirus family.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They can cause illnesses ranging from a simple cold to more severe pathologies such as MERS-COV or SARS.
The virus identified in January 2020 in China is a new Coronavirus, it has been named COVID-19 by World Health Organization. Since the 11th of March 2020, WHO has described the global situation of COVID-19 as a pandemic; that is to say that the epidemic now affects 137 countries over a large area.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath. Other possible symptoms include chills, body aches, runny nose and muscle pain.
If you develop any of these symptoms within 14 days of being in contact with a person infected with the virus, it is recommended that you consult a general practitioner. You should telephone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them your travel history or that you have been in contact with a confirmed case of coronavirus. You can also call the National Coronavirus Help Line on 1800 020 080 for advice. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
How is Covid19 transmitted ?
The new coronavirus is a respiratory virus which spreads primarily through droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes, or through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose. To protect yourself, clean your hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Across the world there have been more than 141 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 3.01 million deaths. There have been 29559 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia so far (19/04/2021) and 910 deaths.