Well folks, a change of plans for the post I had intended to give to you today, thanks to some news that came early in the week – as a destination for travellers, Australia is back baby! From the 21st of February, yes that’s in a single week’s time, the Australian Government will be opening the borders to tourists for the first time in two bloody years!
It’s taken a long, hasn’t it? For me, although this doesn’t directly affect me as the borders were opened to Australians back in November, it’s great news for the tourism industry here which has really been struggling as one can imagine. That’s not to say it’s about to be all rosy now, but there is now hope for operators who have been hanging on.
Australia’s Covid journey has not been the same as many other countries. We basically had no Covid from mid-2020 to mid-2021, with the exception of my state Victoria which was pretty much closed off to the rest of the country from the majority of 2020. Last year saw things feel almost normal until Julyish – very few cases, if there was we locked down for a week or two and quashed the outbreak. States opened and closed according to that.
Then in July Delta arrived bigtime in Australia. Whilst the world had been battling serious outbreaks for over 15 months, the borders had been closed both in and out of Australia – the number of flights into the country was severely limited, and it was extremely hard to get a flight into the country. The flights were all repatriation flights basically, and 14 days quarantine was mandatory. People could pay up to $10,000 and beyond to get a seat home to Australia, IF they could get a flight. If you were someone born in another country and if you had to go home say for the death of a parent or relative, forget it, without citizenship you wouldn’t be able to return. If you were a celebrity, well, that’s a different story of course!
As for tourists wanting to come down under, well, they didn’t get a look in. In fact, even since the original reopening where Aussies were allowed out for holidays and non-essential travel, we hadn’t heard that much about plans to open the border to the rest of the world. Then, this week it gets dropped in a press conference.
The Delta wave here from July to November (ish) mostly affected New South Wales and Victoria. We were locked down until we hit 80% double vaxxed, now we are over 90% double vaxxed and over 40% triple vaxxed. I had my third shot on the third of February – later than I would have had I not had Covid in early January.
Anyways. Australa – 21st of February. What do you need to know? Well, firstly you do need to, at this stage, be doubled vaxxed. I say ‘at this stage’ because this is our current definition of being vaccinated, however there is a push from the Victorian Premier to change that definition to mean you need to be boosted – three jabs! I’d say if you’re coming you would want the third jab should they change that definition, I think it’s likely once we’re at 80% or so.
Different states do have different rules and restrictions. Masks are mandated in most if not all states indoors. Will that change? Well maybe, I think it’s on the card for it to be relaxed in New South Wales in a month or so. Maybe a bit later. The big one is travel to Western Australia – they have gone their own way on reopening and are not, at present, open to the rest of Australia let alone the world and are saying they are waiting to get 80% triple vaxxed I think. They were supposed to reopen on the 5th of February, but changed their minds due to ‘Omicron’ according to the State Premier Mark McGowan.
So at this stage you probably won’t be able to visit Western Australia – even from other states you have to apply to enter and quarantine. Whatever state you enter through (Sydney is New South Wales, Melbourne is Victoria and Brisbane Queensland) you will need a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before your departure.
How are we doing with Omicron? That might be something you are wondering. Well, the curve is well and truly going in the right direction. We had a few days of over 40,000 new cases in January in Victoria (also one of 51,000 but that included a lot of historic RAT tests which weren’t previously counted). Now we are down to under 10,000 a day. New South Wales followed a similar direction. South Australia appears, right now, to be on top of things.
I would be checking, there is a little bit of an upturn in cases, mostly down to students returning to school.
So anyways, you can – after Feb 21st, head down under once again. Please don’t use this post a comprehensive explanation – do your own research and be aware you will need some sort of visa too (many can apply online). I would think this isn’t an easily reversable decision too – once we’re open, we’ll stay open. I think. I hope!
We had a surge of Omicron in January and we didn’t all go into lockdown – remember that it was so many times the previous highs we had experienced too. Hospitals are struggling, but we have nearly down to half as many in hospital now with Covid as we did a month ago. We are learning to live with the virus, and so I do encourage you to come to Australia if you are so inclined and support an industry which has taken a lot of bug hits in the last two years!
Thanks for visiting – take care and May the Journey Never End!