Americans planning to go “down under” for the Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s Eve festivities will need to reconfigure their itineraries after an announcement made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday, October 5. He made the announcement while describing the piecemeal lifting of the nation’s stringent COVID-19 safeguards over the coming weeks and months.
Australia’s strict closure resulted in the lowest rate of immigration since World War II. The closure caused university funding streams to dry up because of the prohibition of international students since March 2020.
Although Australia shuttered its borders, it did not impose the widespread lockdowns that Americans and Europeans had to deal with throughout the pandemic. For permanent residents and citizens of Australia, their daily lives didn’t change much since the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration.
Once Australia reaches the 80% rate for vaccination, skilled migrants and college and university students will gain entry through the borders. In November, vaccinated citizens may fly overseas on vacation.
More than 50% of Australians immigrated to the country or have a parent who immigrated. These families and individuals look forward to visiting their international friends and family members once the borders reopen.
The Australian tourism industry also looks forward to the return of international travelers. Tourism brings in an estimated $33 billion each year to the Australian economy.
According to Queensland Tourism Industry Council’s CEO, Daniel Gschwind, many Australian businesses have suffered from the loss of tourism income. He wants the government to include a concrete plan and establish return dates for international travelers.
The delta variant of COVID-19 caused case counts to soar in Australia over the past few weeks. In October, epidemiologists counted an average of about 2,100 cases per day.
With the rapid rise in delta variant COVID-19 cases, several cities in Australia implemented lockdowns for the first time. Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney residents face short-term limits on allowed activities and local travel until the case numbers drop.
The seven-day moving average of COVID-19 cases currently hovers around 2,000. An average of 16 people have died of COVID-19 each day in October.