Overseas travellers will no longer be required to provide a negative pre-departure PCR COVID-19 test in order to enter Australia.
Instead, as of 1am on Sunday, 23 January, travellers into the country will only need to provide a negative rapid antigen test (RAT), within the 24 hours before their departure.
According to the Department of Health, the rapid antigen test must be undertaken by, or under the supervision of, a medical practitioner, such as a pharmacist, GP, nurse or trained personnel at an airport-based testing station.
RAT results will also need to be formalised in paper or electronic form, with the details of the test result, the information of the travellers, the test method, the brand of RAT used, as well as the date and location where the test was conducted.
Additionally, the government has also moved to halve the time between returning a positive COVID-19 result and being cleared for travel into Australia from 14 days to seven.
The move essentially brings requirements for those who contract COVID-19 overseas in line with current domestic isolation requirements, reducing excessive accommodation costs.
Individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and completed their seven-day isolation period will be exempt from providing a pre-departure negative COVID result, however, will need to provide a medical certificate, specifying that it has been at least seven days since the person first tested positive to the virus, and they are no longer symptomatic or deemed infectious.
The news is likely a welcome relief to Australian travellers, who might have previously been reluctant to travel overseas given the risk of contracting COVID while away.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt said pre-departure testing requirements will “continue to be reviewed regularly” and address current domestic and international epidemiology.
Travellers coming into Australia must continue to wear a mask throughout their flight and follow the directions of state and territory governments regarding quarantine and on-arrival testing.
Currently, only Australian citizens and residents, their immediate family, as well as certain student and skilled migrant visa-holders are allowed to enter Australia from overseas. All arrivals into Australia must prove that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Tourists continue to be blocked from travelling to Australia, except under existing travel bubble arrangements.