WATCH LIVE: Scott Morrison’s press conference amid border reopening announcement

Australia will once again welcome tourists from around the world from February 21, nearly two years after the border was closed to international visitors.

Australia is set to welcome tourists from around the world again nearly two years after they locked down the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday that fully vaccinated international visitors have been given the green light to return from February 21.

He said he was looking forward “to welcoming the world back to Australia” and described the reopening as “another big step that Australia is taking”.

“Especially as we’ve seen the Omicron variant and its impact on hospitalizations and patients on ventilators and in intensive care that peaked and actually started to decline,” Morrison said.

“It now gives us new opportunities to release things.”

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The international border was closed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing only Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families to re-enter.

Changes in recent months have allowed some tourists to visit, in addition to international students, backpackers and skilled workers.

“We have been gradually opening our borders since November last year. These programs have been very successful,” Mr Morrison said.

“Whether it was the programs we had in place with New Zealand or Singapore and then with Japan and South Korea, opening up to international students, backpackers and economic migrants who come to Australia.

“This will now be extended mainly to international visitors who can return. The condition is that you have to be double-vaccinated to come to Australia. That’s the rule. Everyone has to abide by it.”

The announcement is a boost for the country’s struggling tourism industry, which has been hit hard by border closures.

“I know the tourism industry will be looking forward to this and over the next two weeks it will have the opportunity both for visitors to come and for them to prepare to welcome international visitors to Australia,” he said. said Mr Morrison.

The Prime Minister said state-based flight caps and quarantine arrangements will continue and it will be up to jurisdictions to make changes to these measures as they see fit.

Mr Morrison was asked whether his announcement would put pressure on Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan to reopen his state.

“I think the two issues are unrelated. As I said, we will make the decision on the international boundary. The decisions that states make will be consistent with the assessments that they make,” he said. declared.

“It relates to their caps at their airports, as well as their quarantine arrangements as they are in place.”

Tourists who do not receive a double dose will need to provide proof that there is a medical reason why they cannot be vaccinated.

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