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 pre-departure COVID-19 test rule from the middle of next month.

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

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Fully vaccinated travellers will still be required to wear a mask during international flights into Australia, and fill in a Digital Passenger Declaration for good measure. However, for the unvaccinated, travelling 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 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.

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

Earlier this week, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison had teased the easing of restrictions while speaking at an event in Queensland to promote the Great Barrier Reef and other holiday hotspots 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: How to fly to Australia on miles and points

The PM also announced a $60 million (£34 million) tourism package to lure visitors back to Australia.

“As the world reopens, and travellers 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 is dropping pre-arrival testing for vaccinated travellers 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 travellers 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, the Land Down Under 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 own citizens to leave.

Then, on 21 February, 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 

A week later, Western Australia – which had been shut off even to the rest of its own country – let down its own 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 to 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 done 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 travellers who qualify for a travel exemption application will be required to quarantine at a hotel.

Featured image by Anthony Devlin/PA Images via Getty Images.

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