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Covid-19 : Measures taken by Australia and current situation (September 2021)

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Covid-19 : Measures taken by Australia and current situation (September 2021)

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 are partially open however, the situation can change quickly so make sure you check the website of the state you intend to visit before travelling.

To date, and since the Delta strain entered the country, there are been 1,044 deaths linked to Covid-19 across the country. Here are some of the measures applied to date in Australia.

Entering 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.

Exempt categories

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).

Individual exemptions

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.

Compulsory Quarantine

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.

Important: All quarantine-free flights between Australia and New Zealand are paused. More information is available on the Department of Health and New Zealand’s COVID-19 websites.

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.

Last July, Scott Morrison announced that a 4-phase plan had been agreed on by all states and territories. This plan aims for a total reopening of the country. These phases and the transition from one to the other will depend on the vaccination rate of the Australian population. To move on to phase 2, 70% of the eligible population will have to be fully vaccinated. For Phase 3, 80%. For more information, see: Australia International Travel Ban).

From the recent Cabinet meeting, it looks like International borders will open for states hitting vaccine targets of 80%. Indeed, people from Victoria and NSW may be able to go overseas within months and potentially accept international travellers too.

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

Leaving Australia

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.

Important: All quarantine-free flights between Australia and New Zealand are paused. More information is available on the Department of Health and New Zealand’s COVID-19 websites.

Foreigners are free to leave the country without asking an exemption.

Current situation in Australia

States and territories are mainly reopened among themselves. To enter some states, be aware that it can be necessary to obtain a border Pass or complete a declaration. Moreover, you won’t be able to enter some states if you have spent 14 days or more in some areas. Each state applies different rules so it is better to visit the officiel website of the state you would like to visit.

The country does not impose any restrictions on wearing a mask except in some states (NSW, some areas of QLD, VIC). 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 (07/09/21), the country counts 63154 cases of covid since January 2020 and 1044 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 three different vaccines, each requiring two injections. These are the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and Novavax. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization recently recommended in its press release that Pfizer vaccine be preferred over AstraZeneca vaccine in adults under the age of 50. However, it is possible to get the AstraZeneca vaccine if you are under 40 if you want to.

COVID vaccines are free for everyone currently in Australia, even if they are not Australian citizens or permanent residents.

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.

Source NHS BBC

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.

Some numbers

Across the world there have been more than 219 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 4.55 million deaths. There have been 63154 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia so far and 1044 deaths.

Sources

Updated on 7/09/2021

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