Measures will be dropped from 17 April but masks will still be required on international flights to Australia
Just three weeks after Australia fully lifted its travel ban on vaccinated overseas visitors, the government has announced it will scrap its pre-departure test rule next month.
Greg Hunt, the health minister, said that when emergency Covid-19 restrictions lapse on 17 April they will not be renewed.
From that date, fully vaccinated travellers entering Australia will no longer need to present a negative pre-departure test result – currently, they must take a PCR test within the three days before travel or an antigen test within 24 hours.
But passengers will be required to wear a mask while on international flights to Australia, and complete a Digital Passenger Declaration – including details of their vaccinations.
Unvaccinated travellers to Australia will still need a valid travel exemption – special, hard-to-secure permission – plus quarantine on arrival.
Restrictions on the entry of cruise vessels into and within Australia – imposed on 15 March 2020 – will also end on 17 April.
At a press conference announcing the change, Mr Hunt said: “Given that the vaccination requirements remain and the masking requirements, the strong medical advice is that [pre-departure tests] would no longer be required, particularly as there are some challenges in some jurisdictions in having access to those tests or improving those tests.
“So, I spoke with the CEOs of both Virgin Airlines, [board president of Tennis Australia] Jayne Hrdlicka and Qantas, Alan Joyce. But we also took the medical advice of the chief medical officer on this, and that was the view, that we progressively take away those items which are no longer required.”
On 21 February 2022 most of Australia ended a ban on almost all international arrivals that had been in effect for almost two years.
Western Australia followed suit and eased its restrictions on overseas visitors on 3 March.
In the year to the end of January 2022, international tourism to Australia was down 97 per cent compared with same spell to the end of January 2019.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Australia welcomed 9.4m international visitors annually, with tourism providing one in 20 jobs.