Today we saw families and friends reunite from all over the world thanks to the Australian international borders re-opening after 590 days of restricted access.
Travellers comings to Australia no longer have to quarantine, providing a PCR test in the past 72 hours and full vaccination with a TGA approved vaccine.
At around 5:15 am on Monday the 1st of November, a Singapore Airlines flight arrived at Sydney Airport. The first passengers to disembark were met with applause from the QANTAS staff members as well as a few TV cameras, which may have been mildly overwhelming after the long haul flight.
Spirits seemed high at the International Airport, however, as passengers told their emotional stories to the media. While some were returning home to meet a friend’s new baby or go to a wedding, others came back to Australia to be reunited with an unwell loved one. Either way, everyone seemed simply relieved to be back home.
Domestic travel between Victoria, New South Wales, and the ACT has also become easier today, with travellers being able to move freely between the states without quarantining on arrival.
Australians are also able to leave the country permitting that they are fully vaccinated and have had a PCR test within 72 hours of leaving. Travellers must also be mindful of the rules at their destination.
At this stage countries that Australians are free to travel to without having to quarantine are the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Italy, Greece, Germany, and South Africa. You will only need to quarantine for one night when travelling to Thailand, and Singapore will be open to Australians in one week.
Regional travel and v-line services have resumed today for the ACT and NSW as well, meaning more freedom and more homecomings.
From today, fully vaccinated Australians will once again have the freedom to travel internationally. With vaccination rates continuing to soar, we are in a very strong position to start safely reopening our borders. https://t.co/35hgA6DO4H
— Karen Andrews MP (@karenandrewsmp) October 31, 2021
While the country rejoices the reunion of so many families and friends, Australian visa holders have been signing petitions to be included in the reopening plan.
Australian international border restrictions have been able to ease as states reach an 80 percent vaccination rate however, these eased restrictions only apply to Australian citizens and permanent Residents.
Giovanni van Empel left Indonesia in February 2020 to pursue his doctoral degree at Melbourne’s Monash University. It has been almost two years since Mr van Empel saw his children. Speaking to the ABC, he said:
“The funny thing is that we also contribute to the 80 percent vaccination rate, we’ve been doing things right, but the question is why can’t we also travel abroad [and return to Australia] or have our family join us?“
When asked about whether or not temporary visa holders will be considered in the reopening policies, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said, “We need to make sure in the first instance that our priority is and remains looking after Australians.”
Another temporary resident, Jennifer Clayburn, has created a parliamentary petition to give all visa holders a voice.
Ms Clayburn’s petition has been signed by more than 2,000 people while a similar petition on change.org has received almost 30,000 signatures.
It was Ms Clayburn’s hope that the absence of temporary residents in the reopening policy was an oversight however, she and many others are expecting this to be rectified soon.