Fully vaccinated Australian visa holders will be able to enter the country from Dec. 1 after two years of border closure, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced.
Morrison said fully vaccinated eligible visa holders would be able to travel into Australia without needing to apply for a travel exemption. This will include visa types of humanitarian, student, economic, and temporary and provisional family visas.
“The return of skilled workers and students to Australia is a major milestone in our pathway back. It’s a major milestone about what Australians have been able to achieve and enable us to do,” he told the press on Monday.
“It’ll mean a lot for the economies of our country who need those workers and want to see those students return.”
It’s estimated that over 233,000 Australian visa holders will be able to enter the country when the border opens next month.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the government wants skilled migrants and international students back “sooner than later.”
“International students are worth some $40 billion to our economy, and we know that there are workforce shortages out there and skilled workers can play a key part,” he told Sky News.
Citizens from Japan and South Korea will also be allowed to enter Australia from Dec. 1., following the quarantine-free travel bubble with Singapore which started on Sunday.
It’s not specified yet when over one million tourist visas will be allowed to travel into Australia.
The Prime Minister said the decision was made partly due to Australia’s high vaccination rate.
“These are extraordinary achievements by Australians,” he said. “Australians can look forward to the Christmas and holiday season in a way that few around the world can.”
Over 85 percent of the eligible population over 16 are now fully vaccinated, with 91.5 percent having had their first dose.
Frydenberg said the booster program would be critical in the coming months.
“We want to look forward not back, and looking back is looking at lockdowns,” he told the Seven Network on Monday.
“We have been able to secure that vaccine so people should be encouraged to get the booster shot when they are eligible, but I think we can live safely with the virus.”