Recently, Brendan Murphy, Secretary of the Department of Health has announced that borders will probably remain closed until 2022. Moreover, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last Sunday that Australia is in “no hurry” to open its international borders and risk the success that the country has had with the coronavirus pandemic .
In March, Australia has extended its international travel ban until 17 June 2021. Until then borders will remain closed, and it does not mean that borders will reopen after this date. For now, only citizens and returning permanent residents, their immediate family, and travelers with exemptions are permitted to enter the country. Australia is one of the countries to have performed better in the pandemic, with fewer than 30,000 reported cases and 910 deaths.
When will we be able to travel to Australia?
Unfortunately, it seems that borders opening will take much longer than initially planned! Indeed, Australia’s borders are currently closed to anyone travelling from outside of Australia aside from those coming from New Zealand (see below).
There is no definitive date on when Australia’s borders will open to international travel worldwide. We know for sure that borders will remain closed until June 2021. At this date, the situation will be reassessed. Airlines like Qantas do not plan to resume their international travel flights until October 2021.
Australia will not fully open its borders to international travellers until the vaccine has been widely rolled out in the country.
It is important to note that you are still able to apply for a WHV in Australia. Once granted, you will be able to enter Australia as soon as the travel ban is lifted.
If you are currently in New Zealand, you are now able to enter and travel to Australia (without having to undertake a quarantine).
What to do if my visa expires before the opening of borders?
WHV makers who were not able to enter Australia because of the closed borders will be able to lodge a new application free of charge. They will be able to have a new visa for free if they still under the age limit or will get a refund if they have passed it.
Similarly, travellers on working holiday visas who had to leave Australia early due to the pandemic will be eligible for a waiver, or a refund depending on their situation.
Refunds and waivers are available for current WHV holders who are not able to travel to Australia because of travel restrictions.
For those who have passed the relevant age limit, you cannot be able to apply for a new visa. However, you can now apply for a refund.
For more information, check out : WORKING HOLIDAY AUSTRALIA: Visa Waiver or refund announced by the government
‘Travel Safe Zone’ between Australia and New Zealand
As of 19 April 2021, quarantine-free travel between Australia and New Zealand is permitted.
The “Safe Travel Zone” between New Zealand and Australia has now opened and is effective since April 19, 2021. It is now possible to travel from New Zealand to Australia and from Australia to NZ. Travellers who have been in New Zealand territory (New Zealand and Tokelau) for the previous 14 days coming to Australia will not be required to quarantine upon arrival. Likewise, those in Australia traveling to New Zealand will not have to quarantine. The airlines operating flights between the two countries are Qantas and Air New Zealand. If you are currently in NZ, you can apply for a WHV in Australia and those in Australia can apply for a WHV in New Zealand.
This “Bubble” applies to everyone currently in NZ and Australia. Whether you are NZ or Australian citizens, on a WHV, a Student or tourist visa in NZ or Australia, you can enter and travel between those two countries.
It is likely that more ‘bubbles’ will emerge in the coming months between Australia and parts of Asia (Japan, Singapore or South Korea).
Vaccine rollout in Australia
The vaccination campaign in Australia have started on February 22, 2021.
Australia will use mainly 2 different vaccines produced overseas, 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.
Access to vaccine
COVID-19 vaccination will be free for everyone living in Australia. The Government will offer free vaccines to all people living in Australia to achieve the maximum level of coverage, including to visa holders in Australia to ensure the maximum possible coverage in Australia. Which means that the vaccine will be accessible and free of charge for everyone in Australia (WHV makers, international students, tourists etc).
Where to get vaccinated?
The Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine will be available in around 50 hospitals in Australia. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be available at GP respiratory clinics, General Practices that meet specific requirements, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and state-run vaccination clinics. As the roll out continues, more locations will also be made available.
Vaccine Rollout and international travels
Australian Government advice for international travellers remains unchanged, regardless of your COVID-19 vaccination status.
Passengers travelling to Australia must be tested for COVID-19 72 hours or less prior to the scheduled flight departure, and display evidence of a negative test result at the time of check-in.
Passengers and crew on all international flights must wear a face mask during their flight and while in an Australian airport. Masks are not required for children under 12 years of age.
People arriving in Australia by air or sea must quarantine for 14 days in designated hotels. Travellers who are travelling from a green zone such as New Zealand are not required to quarantine.
Source : health.gov.au