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Australia scraps pre-departure testing for international arrivals

written by Isabella Richards | March 25, 2022

Australia’s federal government has just scrapped pre-departure testing for international tourists arriving to the country, starting from 17 April.

Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters on Friday in the Gold Coast that he spoke to the Qantas and Virgin bosses before making the move, according to the ABC.

“Given that the vaccination requirements remain and the masking requirements, the medical advice is that [the test] would no longer be required,” the Health Minister said.

“Particularly as there are some challenges in some jurisdictions in having access to those tests or proving those tests.”

He said he took the medical advice of the chief medical officer, and the view was that the government should “progressively take away those items which are no longer required”.

Since Australia’s borders opened on 21 February again to international tourists, the country has required all double-jabbed tourists with a TGA-recognised vaccine to return a negative COVID rapid antigen test, under supervision, within 24 hours of boarding their flight, or a PCR test within 72 hours before departure.

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Now, travelers will only need to show proof of receiving two doses of the COVID-19 vaccination, and mask mandates will remain on both domestic and international flights.

Unvaccinated tourists are still only able to enter the nation upon an exemption.

Following the announcement, Minister Hunt also confirmed he will not renew the biosecurity orders imposed earlier in the pandemic, which gave him powers over testing requirements and travel restrictions to mitigate the outbreak.

“The country is ready to move on from the emergency declaration made two years and one month ago. I will not be renewing the biosecurity emergency determination,” Hunt said.

“That’s on strong advice from Professor [Paul] Kelly and our other medical advisers; the unanimous advice that was given to me and discussed with the national security committee of cabinet.”

Days before the announcement, Prime Minister Scott Morrison alluded to the ditching of testing requirements during a visit to Cairns on Tuesday, announcing a $60 million boost of funding for tourism.

“It will be an important milestone and is not too far away.”

“While we’re never complacent about the challenges COVID can present and new variants, we’re watching all of those closely as we keep looking through that windscreen,” the Prime Minister told reporters in Cairns on Tuesday

“Hopefully we can continue to see COVID in the rear vision mirror.”

The funding boost to the hard-hit Far North of Queensland will see $15 million given to the local Tourism Tropical North Queensland, and $45 million to Tourism Australia.

 

 

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