Australia will welcome more than 200,000 international travellers planning to study, work or migrate Down Under to boost Australia’s economy after the Covid pandemic.
The country’s vaccination rate soared over 85 per cent on Sunday, meaning normal international travel will begin under the final phase of the government’s reopening plan.
The milestone was marked as the nation received its first non-quarantining visitors from outside New Zealand in almost 20 months.
Planeloads of tourists, expats, business travellers and separated families broke down in tears of joy as they touched down in Sydney and Melbourne from Singapore.
Daniel Andrews and other Labor premiers have supported Singapore’s ‘Green Lane’ travel bubble, but Mr Morrison’s plan likely won’t be as well-received.
Victoria, WA and Queensland have opted for a more cautious approach as cases overseas surge, and want to wait longer before fully opening to the world.
Scott Morrison is set to open the doors to more than 200,000 international travellers planning to study, work or migrate Down Under, in a move aiming to boost Australia’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Pictured: Airport staff welcome Singaporean travellers to Melbourne
A couple embrace at Melbourne Airport after being torn apart by the coronavirus crisis
A young boy holds a koala and welcome home balloon as he awaits a relative from Singapore in Sydney
‘The prime minister doesn’t determine those matters,’ the Victorian premier told reporters on Sunday after being criticised by Mr Morrison about the state’s Covid response.
‘They are matters of state public health law and they are not a matter for the PM, frankly. I would refer him back to his national plan.’
The federal government’s immigration strategy will prioritise ‘skilled workers’ as the nation struggles to plug gaps in the labour market, The Australian reported.
‘As our recovery gathers pace, businesses around the country are increasingly in need of skilled workers, whether they be in hospitality, mining, construction, or professional services,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘In meetings last week with businesses representing almost every sector of the economy, the most pressing issue raised was workforce shortages and the need to reopen our borders, allowing skilled migration to recommence.’
International students will also be jumping to the front of the check-in desk as the education sector desperately tries to claw back the lucrative $40 billion market which supported about 250,000 local jobs prior to the pandemic.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison receives his COVID-19 booster vaccination at Kildare Road Medical Centre in Blacktown in Sydney on November 19, 2021
Plane loads of tourists, expats, business travellers and separated families broke down in tears of joy as they touched down in Sydney (pictured) and Melbourne from Singapore
Dan Andrews and other hard line Labor premiers are un likely to support an influx of overseas arrivals as Covid cases overseas soar
‘[About] 130,000 international students remain outside Australia and they are all very eager to rejoin their classmates,’ Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said.
‘We understand these initial numbers are small but they are a clear signal of the intent to allow many more students to return to classes and our communities soon.’
There were heartwarming scenes in Sydney and Melbourne airports when the first international arrivals since March 2020 landed in Australia without having to undergo hotel quarantine.
In Melbourne, the new arrivals were met with a jazz band, while at Sydney airport staff greeted travellers with koala keepsakes.
Teary-eyed family and friends torn apart during the Covid pandemic, rushed to embrace one another as they walked out of the gate.
There were heartwarming scenes in Sydney and Melbourne airports when the first international arrivals since March 2020 landed in Australia without having to undergo hotel quarantine. Pictured: Sydney Airport
Teary-eyed family and friends torn apart during the Covid pandemic, rushed to embrace one another as they walked out of the gate at Sydney Airport
One of the those travellers told Nine News: ‘I’m very glad you guys have rolled up your sleeves and got the jab. Thank you very much Australia.’
Early into the new year similar Green Lane arrangements are expected to be made with Britain, the US and Japan – with vaccinated travellers only needing to show a clear Covid test within 72 hours of stepping on the plane.
But as Covid cases in Europe surge, prompting governments in Germany, Austria, the Nederland’s, Croatia and Italy to introduce new rounds of restrictions, Australia’s reopening still faces a few hurdles.
Singapore is also experiencing more than 2,000 daily infections compared to states like WA that only had a single recorded case on Sunday.
Federal government policymakers and public health experts are understood to be trying to avoid the ‘European scenario’ by rolling out a widespread booster vaccine program ahead of winter.
In Melbourne, the new arrivals were met with a jazz band, while at Sydney airport staff greeted travellers with koala keepsakes. Pictured: Travellers arrive at Melbourne Airport from singapore
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival