Unvaccinated foreign travellers currently need to seek an exemption to enter.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)
Foreign travellers arriving in Australia will no longer need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from Wednesday morning.
- Health Minister Mark Butler says the decision is being made on medical advice
- In May, just over 1,000 applications from unvaccinated travellers were received, with 158 approved
- Incoming arrivals will still need to comply with other restrictions, including wearing masks on flights
It marks the end of significant COVID-based restrictions on travel into Australia, more than two years after the pandemic began.
Currently, anyone arriving in Australia needs to declare their vaccination status before arriving.
While Australian citizens can arrive unvaccinated, most foreign travellers need to seek an exemption on limited grounds.
From 12:01am on Wednesday morning, those requirements will be scrapped altogether — opening the international border in full to unvaccinated travellers.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the decision was being made now on medical advice.
“The Chief Medical Officer has advised it is no longer necessary for travellers to declare their vaccine status as part of our management of COVID,” he said.
“Unvaccinated Australians, as well as certain groups of visa holders, have been able to travel to Australia for some time.
“We will continue to act on the medical advice as needed.”
Relatively few requests were being made from unvaccinated travellers looking to enter Australia.
In May, just over 1,000 applications were received and only 158 were approved — largely on compassionate grounds.
Incoming arrivals still need to comply with other COVID-19 restrictions, like wearing masks on flights bound for Australia.
‘Digital passenger declarations’ scrapped
All international arrivals into Australia have been required to fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration, which records their vaccination status.
The DPDs were rolled out earlier this year, but with this decision, they will no longer be used.
It is expected the DPD system will eventually take the place of the paper international arrival cards, currently filled out by anyone landing in Australia.
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neill said this decision would allow the technology to be worked on before that change was made.
“I know anyone who has travelled internationally since the borders have opened will find this as one less thing to worry about — especially as more Australians get back to travelling overseas,” she said.
“We’ve also listened to feedback about the DPD.
“While in time it will replace the paper-based incoming passenger card, it needs a lot more work to make it user friendly”
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