Everybody has to be fully vaccinated to enter the country, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a news conference on Saturday in response to a question from a reporter about hip-hop artist Kanye West.
West, a 2020 U.S. presidential candidate whose vaccination status is unknown, is said to be planning an Australian tour in March.
“[My] thoughts are the rules. The rules are you’ve got to be fully vaccinated,” Morrison responded to the question.
“They apply to everybody, as people have seen most recently. It doesn’t matter who you are, they are the rules. Follow the rules, you can come. You don’t follow the rules, you can’t.”
Morrison’s remarks followed a report on Friday in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, citing industry sources, that said West planned to play stadium concerts in Australia in March. Representatives of West, who released his latest album, “Donda,” in July, were not immediately available for comment.
Australia recently deported tennis superstar Novak Djokovic after cancelling his visa when he failed to meet the nation’s rules regarding compulsory COVID-19 vaccination for visitors.
In a 2021 interview on social media, West said he had received one vaccine dose. Previously, in a July 2020 interview with business magazine Forbes, he shared about testing positive for the virus and what having COVID-19 was like.
“Chills, shaking in the bed, taking hot showers, looking at videos telling me what I’m supposed to do to get over it,” he said, while expressing skepticism toward the idea that vaccines could “fix COVID” and caution over their use in children. He also called them “the mark of the beast,” which attracted much scrutiny of his views on COVID-19 vaccination.
Australia, one of the world’s most heavily vaccinated nations against COVID-19, has been battling a wave of infections in the past month driven by the fast-spreading Omicron variant, with about 2 million cases recorded. Deaths and hospitalizations, however, have tracked higher along with the number of Omicron infections.
Before the Omicron wave, Australia had just 400,000 cases since the pandemic first hit nearly two years ago.
On Saturday, 97 people died, after Friday’s pandemic record of 98 deaths. Health officials in several states said, however, that hospital admissions were either plateauing or showing signs of a decline.
Reuters contributed to this article.