Today brings another long-awaited pandemic-era milestone, as Australia lifts all testing requirements for inbound international travelers, be they returning residents or foreign visitors.
“If you are departing to Australia on or after 18 April 2022, you will not need to undertake a COVID-19 test prior to travelling,” the Department of Home Affairs has declared on its website.
Previously, all overseas travelers bound for Australia, whether returning residents or visitors, were required to provide negative results from a COVID-19 PCR or other NAAT test taken within 72 hours of takeoff, or a negative rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours of boarding their flight.
That’s in addition to providing proof of being fully vaccinated, with at least seven days having elapsed since receiving their final dose of an approved vaccine protocol. Passengers are required to present evidence of their vaccination status to airline or vessel staff in order to board, and should also upload it when completing their Digital Passenger Declaration for entry.
“International travellers into and out of Australia will still be required to provide proof of double vaccination against COVID-19,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said, according to Executive Traveller. “Travellers will also still be required to wear a mask while on international flights based on medical advice.”
This loosening of Australia’s entry policy arrives slightly more than two years to the day that the government first slammed shut the country’s external borders to the outside world, as COVID-19 first gripped the globe.
The move places Australia in the company of a growing number of countries that have recently removed their testing or vaccination requirements, or even done away with COVID-era travel restrictions altogether, as vaccination levels have risen and infection rates have fallen. Off-limits to outsiders for almost two full years, Oz only reopened to vaccinated international travelers with testing requirements in place as recently as late February.
Neighboring New Zealand, which has maintained notoriously strict border bans since the start of the pandemic, is also preparing to launch its phased reopening plan. International travelers coming from visa waiver countries (including the U.S.) will be eligible to visit the dual-island nation quarantine-free from May 1. However, New Zealand will require travelers to be both fully vaccinated and carry proof of a negative pre-departure test, plus take a rapid antigen test upon arrival.
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