Australia Starts Re-Opening Borders Next Month

Australia says it will re-open to the world starting in November but that’s not really true. There’s no timeline, even a rough one, for non-residents of the country to return.

What they’re doing for now is lifting the ban on Australians leaving the country, and working towards allowing Australians who return to forcibly quarantine – but to do so at home rather than in state-managed facilities. This will happen at different times for different states and territories. Remember, Australia has even had state-led bans between travel from other states.

The Government’s intention is that once changes are made in November, the current overseas travel restrictions related to COVID-19 will be removed and Australians will be able to travel subject to any other travel advice and limits, as long as they are fully vaccinated and those countries’ border settings allow.

…These changes mean there will be no travel restrictions if you are a vaccinated Australian entering or leaving our shores.

…Testing is expected to continue to be a requirement of international travel, but subject to further medical advice, Rapid Antigen Tests may be used.

Australia succeeded in the early phases of the pandemic. An island, it was possible to keep the virus out of the country. But a zero Covid strategy is difficult to maintain, and nearly impossible with the rapidly-spreading Delta variant. The country was complacent with vaccinations, and nearly the entire population vulnerable to the virus, in the country with a low number of ICU beds per capita. So the country used draconian measures to limit virus spread.

Australia then became United Airlines on steroids, with restrictions and threats driving vaccination rates upward rapidly. They even purposely limited access to at-home tests to push vaccination.

Oddly for a country so concerned with limiting virus spread, they’ll accept vaccination abroad with Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine which pre-Delta was reportedly 51% effective in preventing symptomatic disease in a messy trial, and according to the World Health Organization has no data to support reduced transmission or spread. And Australia is unlikely to require Pfizer as a third dose for Sinovac recipients. However the Australian relationship with China has become.. complex. This is why Australia reneged on its French submarine deal in favor of closer strategic cooperation with the United States.

After years of escalating pressure, last November Chinese diplomats in Canberra warned that to enjoy better relations with Beijing, Australia’s government must address 14 Chinese grievances. It must, among other things, stop funding “anti-China” research, refrain from provocative actions like requesting a more thorough World Health Organization investigation of the origins of Covid-19, stop opposing strategic Chinese investments into Australia, and block private media outlets from publishing “unfriendly” news stories about China.

The tone of the Prime Minister’s announcement of re-opening is one of triumphant success. They’ve limited spread at great cost. And vaccinated Australians currently have severely limited freedoms. That will change somewhat in the coming months. Qantas is already moving forward some of its international flying restarts from December to November – Sydney to Los Angeles and London will begin November 14.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] During much of the pandemic Australia was closed off to the world. Citizens couldn’t leave, except for a period of time to fly to New Zealand (and were threatened with prosecution if they used New Zealand as a gateway to other countries). Tens of thousands of Australians were stranded abroad, until they could schedule quarantine in state facilities. Australians were only permitted to leave – and return – starting this past fall. […]


  1. I’ve been to Australia once, entering and leaving via Sydney. It was on that trip I learned just how truly bad Quantas’s business class is (B747 HKG-SYD). I have familial links in Australia and it is/was a comfortable place to visit. I’ve wanted to go back.
    But now, I’m not sure I will, and certainly not in the foreseeable future. If the government of the country of my birth, England, could turn itself into a fair equivalent of Cold War East Germany during COVID, then Australia is the Gulag. I cannot imagine how a Western government gets away with treating its electors as it has. It is truly chilling. Scott Morrison has basically copied Xi Jinping’s playbook for how deal with your citizenry during a pandemic. So no, I think I’ll take my dollars elsewhere and to Hell with the government of Australia.
    BTW, for those who may incorrectly assume I am a COVID/vaccine denier, far from it. But governmental overreach doesn’t even come close in this case. It should not be rewarded with tourist dollars for a very long time.
    And………….Australia has a very low %age of vaccinated residents, yet another government failure. Another reason not to go there.

  2. Visit the Soviet Socialist States of Australia NOW???? No thanks, I’ve already been to North Korea.

  3. Yep, no details provided so far about this grand reopening. No date, no information about what duration of home quarantine. The Prime Minister really wanted a press announcement so he announced an aspiration with no supporting details.

  4. Any “nazi” in that photo, is likely the right-wing extremist being arrested!

    Thanks goodness I don’t live in Florida, what is the price of “freedom” in deaths per day there?

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