Australia Hopes to Reopen Its Borders by End of the Year With Help of a Vaccine Passport
Aussies looking to travel internationally got a glimmer of hope this week as the federal government told them to "dust off [their] passports" in preparation for the country's slow reopening — a process that will now include the trial of vaccine passports with some countries.
The announcement comes nearly 18 months after Australia closed its borders in the early stages of the pandemic. Borders have remained closed ever since with strict guidelines in place for the few exceptions that allowed travelers to enter the country for essential reasons.
However, as Australia's vaccination rate increases, the country may ease its international travel restrictions before the end of the year.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed in a press conference this week, that people will be allowed to travel overseas when 80% of Australia's adult population has received both doses of an approved vaccine. That could happen as soon as late November. As of September 12, 42.3% of Australia's adult population was already fully vaccinated.
Morrison also noted that Australians that travel internationally would need to quarantine upon return.
To prepare for this reopening, Minister for Trade and Tourism Dan Tehan said Sunday, according to CNN, that the government would conduct a trial of vaccine passports with select countries, including Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the U.S., as well as Australia's neighboring Pacific islands.
Instead of issuing a separate card or passport to prove vaccination status, Tehan explained that the vaccine passport would be a QR code linked to travelers' real passports.
"When that international border opens we want to make sure we're ready for people to be able to travel again and, you know, it's incredibly important that we're doing that preparatory work," Tehan said.
Travelers inoculated in Australia will be automatically eligible for the vaccine passport. For inbound travelers who received their jabs overseas, they must have received shots approved by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). As of right now, that only includes Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, and Janssen Cilag.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but she's always on the lookout for her next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.