International students locked out of Australia received the welcome news that eligible visa holders can return to the country from Dec. 15, 2021. The latest Australian news can be confusing for many as different states and territories have different rules regarding quarantining. With restrictions changing with little notice, here’s a rundown of the latest Australian news that affects international students:
Latest Australia news: Quarantining updates
Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan recently announced that the reopening of Western Australia’s border to the rest of the world on Feb. 5, 2022 will be delayed amid the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. A new date would be considered during the next month. International students are not currently listed among the exempted travellers.
On Jan. 20, 2022, McGowan said in a Facebook post: “Allowing hundreds or thousands of Omicron infected people to fly straight into Perth from Feb. 5, 2022, with no testing, no quarantine and no public health measures, would cause a flood of COVID-19 across our state.”
Speaking to Times Higher Education, Murdoch University interim vice-chancellor Jane den Hollander said Murdoch had been planning for international students’ return from Feb. 5, 2022 but would now need to “revisit our plans and timelines”.
“It is important we work with the government to be able to welcome international students back to Western Australia as soon as possible – we are diminished without them. Any delay will provide universities in the eastern states a competitive advantage, and put Western Australia’s universities on the back foot, not just this year, but for many years to come,” she was quoted saying.
International students with valid visas who are fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved vaccination can enter Queensland without quarantining. Students will be required to take a TGA approved rapid antigen test within the first 24 hours of arrival in Queensland.
The latest Australian news on Victoria includes all fully vaccinated international arrivals must immediately quarantine at home or other private accommodation upon arrival and get a rapid antigen test or COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of arriving and continue to quarantine until they receive a negative result.
New South Wales
Incoming students must self-isolate at their home or accommodation until they receive a negative result from a rapid antigen test taken after arrival in NSW. “You must take a rapid antigen test as soon as practicable after your arrival in NSW,” notes the state government.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Travellers must undergo a COVID-19 test within 24 hours of arriving in Australia. “Get a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT), or a PCR test if RAT is not available, and quarantine until you receive a negative result,” said Study Canberra.
“Once you have received a negative result (either RAT or PCR), you do not need to wait to be formally advised of the end of your quarantine by ACT Health, however, you should monitor for symptoms.”
The Northern Territory government notes the following on its website: “Double vaccinated visitors are welcome to enter the Northern Territory without having to quarantine.
“Only Therapeutic Goods Administration approved and recognised COVID-19 vaccines are accepted for the purpose of travel to Australia and the Northern Territory and proof of vaccination will be required on arrival.”
This rule also applies to eligible international students. Charles Darwin University, for instance, is expecting to welcome over 130 international students to the territory as border restrictions ease, said Mix 104.9 Darwin.
The state government notes on its website that travellers must have evidence of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken in the 3 days prior to departure. On arrival to SA, travellers must undertake a COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of arrival in SA and quarantine until the test is taken.
The Tasmanian government notes on its website that conditions for international arrivals to Tasmania are dependent on the vaccination status of the traveller and where they have spent time prior to travel to Tasmania. “Vaccinated travellers from overseas should check the list of high and extreme-risk areas,” it said.
Latest Australian news: Other updates
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also announced that eligible student visa holders could work more hours due to worker shortages in the country following an Omicron outbreak, but critics argue that unlimited work hours may not necessarily be a good thing. Morrison also announced that international students who arrive in Australia would have their visa rebated at the cost of 630 Australian dollars per student for a limited period.