After two agonizing years in southerly isolation, Australia will finally open its borders to tourists.
Covid-19 infections remain an issue Down Under, but because so many Australians have been vaccinated (about 93% of citizens over the age of 12) and the Omicron variant is hitting differently than prior, deadlier versions of the virus, Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison decided it was time for the rules to change.
"The variant is here in Australia," Morrison told reporters. "And for those who are coming in who are double-vaccinated, they don’t present any greater risk than those who are already here in Australia."
That's why on February 21, with one month left to enjoy summer in the Southern Hemisphere, you may finally go to Australia for leisure purposes if you're fully vaccinated.
Unlike some European countries, Australia has not placed a time limit on the age of visitor vaccinations. No matter when you got your shots, as long as at least a week has passed since your final dose, you may enter. A booster shot is not required.
Kids under 12 may enter as if they were vaccinated, even if they are not. Medical exemptions for all ages are available as long as rigorous documentation demands are met.
If you are unvaccinated, however, it's as if nothing has changed. Unvaxxed adult travelers will have to obtain a special exemption to enter Australia—and casual tourism is not grounds for an exemption. Unvaccinated visitors also still have to quarantine (right, Novak Djokovic?), sometimes for as long as two weeks (depending on the local rules) at their own expense.
The state of Western Australia, where the largest city is Perth, will remain essentially closed to outsiders for a while longer.
But the rest of Australia, including the tourism heavy hitters of Sydney, Melbourne (pictured above), the Northern Territory, and Queensland, will all begin accepting vaccinated tourists on February 21—and without a quarantine requirement.
Contrast Australia's reopening method with nearby New Zealand, which is plotting a drawn-out, phased reopening that retains quarantining with the expectation that the spread of Omicron will be able to be controlled.
Before the pandemic, some 10 million international visitors went to Australia each year.
Get the full list of details about travel to Australia as well as the rules concerning the forms of vaccination proof that officials will accept by going to the Home Affairs website of the Australian government.