Australia will finally welcome international students and skilled migrants into the country after slamming the border shut two years ago.
More than 230,000 visa holders and 133,000 students are expected to touch down in the country from Wednesday after the Federal Government confirmed the borders would be lifted after a two-week hiatus.
The border was due to be lifted on December 1 but because of the threat of the new Omicron strain of Covid-19, the reopening was pushed back.
Visa holders must be vaccinated, and return a negative Covid test 72 hours before arrival.
The resumption means a travel bubble with Japan and South Korea can also begin.
Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said she was delighted international students could at last return.
‘We have missed their presence dearly and couldn’t be more delighted to welcome them back from today,’ Ms Jackson said.
Australia’s borders have finally lifted for skilled migrants and international students (pictured family reuniting at Brisbane Airport on Monday)
Hundreds of thousands of visa holders will be able to reunite with loved ones in Australia from Wednesday
‘We recognise the very real effects Covid-19 has had on their wellbeing, and the resilience they have shown amidst extreme uncertainty.’
Wednesday also marks the reopening of Tasmania’s border, with fully vaccinated travellers able to enter the state.
People entering Tasmania from certain high-risk areas must return a negative Covid-19 test in the 72 hours before they arrive. Unvaccinated people will still need to apply for a travel exemption to enter.
Virus restrictions are also set to relax from Wednesday in NSW, with the unvaccinated now able to enter retail and hospitality venues.
The ban on unvaccinated people was set to end on December 15 or when NSW hit a 95 per cent fully vaccinated rate, whichever came first.
NSW’s vaccination rate currently sits at 93.2 per cent.
Australia’s reopening of the international border comes just two days after Queensland welcomed back tourists
A traveller wearing protective gear is seen arriving in Sydney on November 29
There have been fears the decision to open up to the unvaccinated will lead to an even bigger spike in Covid-19 cases in the state, after NSW saw a large rise in infections due to Omicron.
There were 804 new cases in NSW on Tuesday, the highest number since the end of the Covid-19 lockdown, with 21 being linked to the Omicron variant.
Despite the rising number of Omicron cases, Doherty Institute infectious diseases expert Sharon Lewin said the rise in case numbers was not unexpected.
‘It is a balance between how much activity there is and how much chance of exposure and how much protection there is,’ Professor Lewin told the ABC.
‘I don’t think it is anything to be panicked about, it was what we expected.’
The border was due to be lifted on December 1 but because of the threat of the new Omicron strain of Covid-19, the reopening was pushed back (pictured at Brisbane Airport)
NSW announced on Tuesday night that fully vaccinated arrivals from the eight southern African countries would no longer have to enter 14 days of hotel quarantine, bringing all international arrivals under the same requirements.
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said all fully vaccinated international arrivals must still self-isolate for 72 hours.
Nationally, 89.5 per cent of the population over 16 is fully vaccinated while 93.4 per cent have had one dose.
The number of people who have had their booster shots is now more than 771,000.
Victoria had 1189 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday including three connected to Omicron, as well as six deaths.
There were four cases in both the ACT and the Northern Territory, while South Australia had 12 infections.
West Australian authorities are investigating a Covid-19 scare after three truck drivers tested positive in SA after spending time in WA last week.
It comes just a day after Premier Mark McGowan announced plans to open the state’s hard border to the rest of the country on February 5.
The border reopening was delayed due to fears surrounding the Omicron variant