It’s official: Australia is scrapping its pre-travel testing

Mar 25, 2022

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Some big news from Down Under: It’s getting easier to visit Australia again, with government officials revealing they’re scrapping the predeparture COVID-19 test rule beginning mid-April.

Currently, travelers hoping to visit the land of Crocodile Dundee must prove they’ve had a negative PCR test in the three days before their flight, or an antigen test within 24 hours. However, as of April 17, double jabbed visitors will no longer have to present a negative predeparture test as the country transitions toward living with COVID-19.

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Fully vaccinated travelers will still be required to wear a mask during international flights to Australia and fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration for good measure. However, for the unvaccinated, traveling to Australia will still require proof of exemption followed by quarantine on arrival.

The other big news is that cruise ships — barred from entering Aussie waters since the fatal COVID-19 outbreak on the Ruby Princess in 2020, which is believed to be the source of over 10% of Australia’s early COVID-19 cases and connected to at least 28 deaths — are to return as well.

Australia has rolled out some of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions across the board since the pandemic first flared up, and these developments represent an Uluru-size vote of confidence from officials. The news also comes as Australia’s government announced a multibillion-dollar deal with Moderna for an mRNA vaccine hub to be built in Victoria.

Earlier this week, Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, teased easing the restrictions while speaking at an event in Queensland to promote the Great Barrier Reef and other vacation hot spots hit by the country’s border closures. “When it comes to international borders, they’re open and there are no caps on flights for people to come,” he said.

Related: Australia is reopening: How to book a trip to Sydney with points and miles

The prime minister also announced a $60 million tourism package to lure visitors back to Australia.

“As the world reopens, and travelers get out and see the world again, we want to ensure that at the top of every must-see list is Australia,” he said.

Related: Canada dropping testing requirements for vaccinated travelers as of April 1

“I have been listening to tourism industry operators about what they will need to rebuild their international tourist businesses and this funding boost will deliver on these needs.”

He said the funding package was designed to get international travelers on planes and in Australia.

“The return of our international tourism market will support hundreds of thousands of tourism jobs, strengthen our economy, and back our world-class tourism operators and the many regions reliant on international visitors, like tropical North Queensland.”

Related: KLM plans to stop monitoring face masks this week – despite Dutch government rules

Since March 2020, Australia had been all but closed off to foreign tourists, in one of the strictest and most sustained COVID-19 border policies the world has seen during the pandemic. At first, Australia would not even allow its citizens to leave.

Then, on Feb. 21, 2022, the country finally ventured back out into the wild, throwing open its borders to vaccinated tourists — so long as they didn’t want to go to Western Australia.

Related: I could have entered Australia at any time during the pandemic – here’s why I waited until now

A week later, Western Australia — which had been shut off even to the rest of its own country — let down its drawbridge, allowing vaccinated tourists to enter, as well as Australians from other states.

What are the current restrictions to get into Australia?

All international arrivals in Australia must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding their flight, whether it’s a PCR or rapid antigen test. PCR tests must be taken within 72 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure, while rapid antigen tests must be taken within 24 hours.

Eligible visitors are also required to complete an Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before departure, which includes a declaration regarding their vaccination status. They will also be asked to upload their vaccination certificate.

Unvaccinated travelers who qualify for a travel exemption application will be required to quarantine at a hotel.

Featured photo by Anthony Devlin/PA Images/Getty Images.

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