Australia relaxes COVID-19 travel advisory ahead of border reopening

FILE PHOTO: Patrons dine at a bar near the harbor following the relaxation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) regulations, following an extended lockdown to curb an outbreak, in Sydney, Australia, October 22, 2021. REUTERS / Jaimi Joy

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Thursday relaxed its COVID-related travel advice for several countries, including the United States, Britain and Canada, as it prepares to reopen its borders next week for the first time in over 18 months.

Australia will lift its overseas travel ban for fully vaccinated residents from November 1 following strong uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, as Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, seek to accommodate travelers from overseas without quarantine.

“The changes announced today are a vital next step in reuniting Australian families and safely reopening Australia to the world,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement on Thursday.

The updated travel advice by country will also help Australians access travel insurance more easily, Payne said.

As Australia begins to ease travel restrictions linked to COVID-19, Victoria recorded its deadliest day in the Delta outbreak on Thursday with 25 deaths and 1,923 cases, the biggest increase in infections in four days . Neighboring New South Wales, home to Sydney, recorded 293 new cases, up from 304 on Wednesday.

Despite the Delta wave, the national number of coronavirus is still relatively low by global standards, with around 166,000 cases and 1,694 deaths.

Australia has gradually eased strict restrictions in Sydney and Melbourne, aided by higher vaccination levels after a third wave of infections fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant spread rapidly across its southeast .

The relaxation of travel rules, however, is not uniform across Australia, as the country’s states and territories have different vaccination rates and health policies.

As part of the updated travel advice framework, the “do not travel” warning, implemented for all destinations in March 2020, has been removed. But no destination will be defined below “level 2 – exercise extreme caution”.

Report by Renju José; edited by Richard Pullin

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