Unvaccinated students, here’s some welcome news: from Wednesday (July 6, 2022) onwards, all unvaccinated travellers will no longer need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter the Land Down Under.
In a press statement, Health Minister Mark Butler said this decision was made by the Australian government after considering the latest medical advice.
“The Chief Medical Officer has advised it is no longer necessary for travellers to declare their vaccine status as part of our management of COVID,” he said. “Unvaccinated Australians, as well as certain groups of visa holders, have been able to travel to Australia for some time. We will continue to act on the medical advice as needed.”
It is still mandatory, however, for travellers to wear masks on both international and domestic flights in Australia.
“As more and more of us travel internationally and we get more confident in managing our risk of Covid our airports are getting busier,” said Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil in a press statement.
“Removing these requirements will not only reduce delays in our airports but will encourage more visitors and skilled workers to choose Australia as a destination.”
More freedom for unvaccinated students, travellers
For two long years, the country has been practising strict travel regulations and restrictions. Currently, anyone entering Australia will need to declare their vaccination status and complete a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) upon arrival.
While Australian nationals can arrive unvaccinated, unvaccinated international students are prohibited from entering the country. To enter unvaccinated, they must go through a long and difficult process to seek an exemption on limited grounds.
According to the Daily Mail, only 158 out of 1,000 applications made by unvaccinated travellers in May were approved, most of which was on compassionate grounds.
Faster student visa processing times expected
In a separate issue, international students can also expect faster Australian student visa processing times soon as Australia’s newly elected government is working on tackling the growing visa backlog.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese recently announced that he has made it his priority to address the visa backlog, which is affecting the country’s skill shortages.
This, along with lifting the border restrictions, is among many of the Australian government’s efforts to navigate the country towards COVID-normal.
Recently, thousands of teachers and administrative staff in South Australia who had quit, were sacked or suspended for refusing to get vaccinated were given the green light to seek or return to their jobs from July 18, 2022 onwards, reported News.com.au.
While teachers do not have to disclose their vaccination status, parents can still request for their child to be taught by someone who is vaccinated.