Australia is set to relax Covid restrictions and reopen its international border next month, after operating tight controls since 2020.
Prime minister Scott Morrison announced on 1 October that fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents will be travel from November, subject to vaccination rates.
How will the new rules work?
Speaking at a press conference, Morrison said: "It’s time to give Australians their lives back.
"We’ve saved lives. We’ve saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country."
The new rules will allow citizens and permanent residents to travel abroad and quarantine at home for seven days upon their return.
People who haven’t yet been vaccinated will still have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days at their own cost.
He announced that states will need to reach a vaccination rate of more than 80% before flights are able to land at their airports without restriction.
The exact date for the borders to be reopened has not yet been confirmed, though it is expected to be in the first half of November.
The travel restrictions will be eased across the country’s eight states as the home quarantine system rolls out.
He added: "To reopen safely and to stay safely open, firstly we need home quarantine pilots in New South Wales and South Australia to conclude and be successful so they can role out at scale."
Why has the border been closed?
Morrison shut the border in March 2020, with strict limits on the number of exemption permits granted for business or humanitarian purposes.
Through tight border controls and strict domestic restrictions, Australia has been able to minimise the spread of Covid.
Citizens and permanent residents who have been allowed to return from abroad have had to complete a 14-day quarantine in a hotel at a cost of approximately £1600.
The country has recorded more than 107,000 confirmed cases of Covid and 1,311 deaths in total, according to Johns Hopkins University.
A number of cities in Australia are currently in lockdown due to Covid outbreaks, including Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
Sydney’s lockdown is due to end on 11 October after 13 weeks.
The majority of the 2084 new cases reported today (1 October) came in New South Wales, which contains Sydney, and Victoria, which contains Melbourne.
These states now have the highest vaccination rates at almost 80% each.
While the government will open international borders in November, state borders may not open in a number of places, including Queensland and Western Australia, until vaccination rates are higher.
Can I travel to Australia when borders reopen?
The first part of the plan to ease travel restrictions only applies to Austrlian citizens and permanent residents returning to the country.
This means that UK nationals still won’t be able to travel to Australia, other than in exceptional circumstances relating to business or humanitarian reasons.
There was no announcement on when restrictions on foreign travellers entering Australia will change.
There are reports that the matter is currently under discussion by that there is no timetable as yet.
Morrison said: "We will also work towards completely quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.”