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Australia will FINALLY reopen its borders in November and allow vaccinated citizens to travel

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Australia will begin reopening its borders next month, the country’s prime minister said Friday, 18 months after citizens were banned from traveling abroad without authorization.

Scott Morrison said vaccinated Australians could return home and travel abroad ‘within weeks’ if 80 per cent vaccination targets are met.

“The time has come to give Australians their lives back. We are preparing for that and Australia will be ready to take off very soon,” Morrison said.

On March 20 last year, Australia introduced some of the world’s strictest border restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past 560 days, countless international flights have been grounded and travel abroad has been delayed by a drop.

Families are spread across continents, an estimated 30,000 citizens are stranded abroad and foreign residents are trapped in the country unable to see friends or relatives.

More than 100,000 requests to enter or leave the country were rejected in the first five months of this year alone, according to data from the Interior Ministry.

“The time has come to give Australians their lives back. We are preparing for that and Australia will be ready to take off very soon,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. The prime minister announced that the country’s border restrictions will be eased next month as the country approaches 80 percent vaccination coverage.

Anti-lockdown protests have been held across the country, but Melbourne has been one of the main epicenters of discontent and anti-lockdown sentiment

Anti-lockdown protests have been held across the country, but Melbourne has been one of the main epicenters of discontent and anti-lockdown sentiment

In recent months there has been a wave of anti-lockdown protests in Australia as citizens rise up against strict lockdown rules (Pictured: protester arrested by Melbourne police on September 25)

In recent months there has been a wave of anti-lockdown protests in Australia as citizens rise up against strict lockdown rules (Pictured: protester arrested by Melbourne police on September 25)

Melbourne's citywide lockdown will remain in effect until 70 percent of Victorians over 16 have been double vaccinated, which is expected to be October 26

Melbourne’s citywide lockdown will remain in effect until 70 percent of Victorians over 16 have been double vaccinated, which is expected to be October 26

Morrison also announced that on their return, vaccinated residents would be able to quarantine for seven days, bypassing the current mandatory and expensive 14-day hotel quarantine.

Unvaccinated Australians will still be required to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period in hotels or designated facilities on their return.

Aussies who cannot be vaccinated, including those under the age of 12 or with a medical condition, will be treated as vaccinated before travel.

The exact timing of the border reopening will depend on when Australian states reach their 80 percent vaccination target, and critically on local political approval.

New South Wales’ most populous state currently has 64 percent of people over 16 fully vaccinated and has said it will hit 70 and 80 percent this month.

“We’ve saved lives. We have saved livelihoods, but we need to work together to ensure Australians can regain the life they once had in this country,” Morrison said.

But most Australian states – especially Western Australia and Queensland – still lack widespread community transmission, are pursuing a ‘Covid-zero’ strategy and remain closed to other parts of the country.

Friday’s announcements could mean that it will be easier for people in Sydney or Melbourne to travel to London or New York in a month than to Perth or Brisbane.

Australian airline Qantas welcomed the decision and announced it would resume flights to London and Los Angeles on November 14.

Expats and foreign residents cautiously welcomed the news on social media forums. But experts say many Australians will remain cautious about booking travel for fear of rapid closures or other disruptions.

And the impact of the unprecedented period in the country’s history could be felt for years to come.

“Australia has been a fortress country with the drawbridge to the rest of the world,” Tim Soutphommasane, an academic and former Australian commissioner for racial discrimination, told AFP.

Protesters take part in a Reclaim The Line rally at Parramatta, in Sydney, Friday, October 1, 2021. Protesters protest against mandatory Covid vaccinations in the workplace

Protesters take part in a Reclaim The Line rally at Parramatta, in Sydney, Friday, October 1, 2021. Protesters protest against mandatory Covid vaccinations in the workplace

Protesters gather during an anti-lockdown protest and police officers stand guard in Melbourne last week.  Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in Melbourne, injuring at least four people and taking more than five dozen into custody.  Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at more than 2,000 .  spreading

Protesters gather during an anti-lockdown protest and police officers stand guard in Melbourne last week. Hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters clashed with police in Melbourne, injuring at least four people and taking more than five dozen into custody. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at more than 2,000 . spreading

“What we’re seeing now with this announcement of the borders reopening is akin to Australia re-entering the world, and it’s been a long time,” he said.

A Lowy Institute poll in May showed that a large number of Australians supported the hard border measures, with 41 percent of those in favor.

Only 18 percent said compatriots should be free to leave.

‘Australia has been an emphatically open, multicultural and cosmopolitan country in recent decades.

“It has been a trading nation. But Covid has seen the nation turn back the clock,” Soutphommasane said.

He added: “There has been a sense of short-sightedness and insularity that has shaped the nation’s response to Covid-19. The rest of the world may look to this idea that Australia has fundamentally changed as a country.’

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