The emergence of the Omicron variant has obligated the Australian government to halt the process of safely reopening Australia to the world. The government has made this decision based on the medical advice provided by the Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Professor Paul Kelly. The National Security Committee has taken this essential step of temporarily closing the borders for international skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holiday makers and provisional family visa holders from 1 December 2021 until 15 December 2021.
During this temporary pause, the government will conduct the necessary research and collect information about this new Omicron variant. The Australian government hopes that the gathered information will help them understand the efficacy of the vaccines, ranges of illness, types of symptoms and the level of transmission. The Australian borders will remain open to fully vaccinated Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family, as well as fully vaccinated green lane travellers from New Zealand and Singapore and limited exemptions. The rules regarding the negative PCR report while arriving in Australia and completion of Australian traveller declaration forms detailing the vaccination status and confirming requirements to comply with state and territory public health requirements remain intact.
On 27/11/2021, the Australian government announced the following measures-
- Effective immediately, anyone who is not a citizen or permanent resident of Australia, or their immediate family, including parents of citizens, and who have been in African countries where the Omicron variant has been detected and spread – within the past 14 days – will not be able to enter Australia. The countries are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi and Mozambique.
- Australian citizens and permanent residents, immediate family members, including parents arriving from these countries, will need to go into immediate supervised quarantine for 14 days subject to jurisdictional arrangements.
- Anyone who has already arrived in Australia and has been in any of the eight countries within the past 14 days must immediately isolate themselves and get tested for COVID-19 and follow jurisdictional quarantine requirements, including quarantine for 14 days from the time of departure from southern Africa.
- These restrictions also apply to people, for instance, international students and skilled migrants, arriving from the safe travel zones established by the Australian government with New Zealand and Singapore who have been in any of the eight countries within the past 14 days. There are no flights planned from these countries, and these measures will also be continued until 15 December 2021.
Upon further advice from Professor Kelly, Seychelles has been removed from the list of countries of concern.
Under state public health requirements, New South Wales and Victoria have already initiated testing and 72 hours of isolation requirements for Australian citizens, permanent residents and immediate family members entering the country. 14 days of managed quarantine are required in other states, and traveller cap arrangements are in place. The Australian Government’s quarantine facility at Howard Springs in Darwin is available to support returning Australians each fortnight as required.
We live in an uncertain time of a pandemic that has claimed thousands of lives. We are with you and will help you in every way we can. Reach out to us if you have any questions.