Australia fully reopens to all vaxxed international tourists

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Belmont Lay | February 21, 2022, 10:37 AM

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Australia fully reopened its international borders to travellers vaccinated against the coronavirus on Feb. 21.

More than 50 international flights will reach the country through the day, including 27 touching down in Sydney, its largest city, Reuters reported.

The tourism and hospitality sectors are looking to rebuild after the sector was crippled ever since the country shut its borders in March 2020.

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Tourism is one of Australia's biggest industries, worth more than A$60 billion (S$58 billion) and employing about 5 per cent of the country's workforce.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in the island state of Tasmania, which relies heavily on tourism: "It is a very exciting day, one that I have been looking forward to for a long time, from the day that I first shut that border right at the start of the pandemic."

Reuters reported that Tourism Minister Dan Tehan handed out gift jars of Vegemite, an iconic Australian condiment, and stuffed koala toys to arriving travellers.

Qantas said it is looking to fly more than 14,000 passengers into Australia this week, while Virgin Australia said it is expecting strong demand, according to the wire report.

Australia goes from tough controls to gradual reopening

Australia shifted away from its tough controls on Covid-19 and relentless lockdowns since late 2021 and began living with the virus once higher vaccination levels were attained.

Skilled migrants, international students and backpackers have been allowed to fly into Australia since November 2021 in a staggered reopening exercise.

With hospital admissions steadily falling over the past three weeks, Australia's outbreak of the Omicron coronavirus variant appears to have passed its peak.

The bulk of Australia's pandemic total of about 2.7 million confirmed cases has been detected since the emergence of Omicron in late November.

Total deaths stood at 4,929.

Just over 15,600 new cases and 17 deaths were registered by midday on Monday, Feb. 21, with two states due to report later.

Top photo via Unsplash

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