October 1 (UPI) – Australia announced on Friday that it is reopening its borders to some international travel after a controversial 18-month ban.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference friday that fully vaccinated Australians and permanent residents of Australia who are abroad will be able to travel again.
Australian officials said they will make the switch now that 78% of residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine and 55% have become fully immunized.
“And that’s where Australia is now preparing to move,” Morrison said. “It will happen next month. That’s when it will start to happen, starting next month, as states move to those 80% immunization rates.”
Australia had its closed borders to all non-nationals since March 20, 2020, residents needing special permission to leave. The limitation was only supposed to last until December, but was extended when variants of the coronavirus emerged.
Qantas, Australia’s national air carrier, said it will resume travel to and from London and Los Angeles on November 14.
Those who are not vaccinated or have received a vaccine not recognized by Australian authorities will still have to spend two weeks in a managed quarantine facility.
Citizens and residents who cannot be vaccinated because they are under 12 or have a health problem will be treated as vaccinated during their trip.
Australian government Approved six vaccines, including those manufactured by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Two more were added on Friday: Chinese Sinovac and Indian Covishield.
Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of Australia’s Business Council, said closing the international border has cost the country’s economy some $ 7.6 billion a month. She called on the leaders of the states and territories to move forward with their plans for national reopening.