Australia “on track” to welcome visa holders on Wednesday, health minister says

“This reopening is scheduled – will take place in consultation with the Prime Minister, the National Cabinet discussion and the advice of the Chief Medical Officer.”

The plan to move forward with reopening international borders comes amid the emergence of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

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The federal government announced on November 29 that the reopening for international students and skilled migrants would be postponed for two weeks from December 1 to 15, in response to concerns about the Omicron variant.

The decision meant that many visa holders who had been barred from Australia due to international border restrictions for almost two years faced further delays in entering the country.

From December 15, borders are expected to be reopened to qualified international visa holders and students, as well as humanitarian, working holiday and family visa holders.

The easing of restrictions would mean fully immunized visa holders would no longer be required to obtain an exemption to travel within the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also confirmed that the reopening will apply to travelers from Japan and South Korea.

He made the comments during a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-In during his diplomatic visit to Canberra.

“This is made possible because [South] Korea and Australia both shared a COVID-19 experience, ”he told reporters.

“Korea has had an extraordinary set of achievements in dealing with the virus.”

While Australia’s international borders have been open since early November, only fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents and their families have been able to travel to the country without quarantine.

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Visa holders will need a vaccine approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration to enter the country.

They will also need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test within three days of departure.

Business groups as well as the academic sector are also waiting for borders to reopen to bring in workers to fill critical skills shortages and resume studies for international students.

The planned reopening comes as health authorities continue to assess the transmissibility and severity of the Omicron variant.

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