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Australia reopens borders to tourists after almost two years

Vaccinated travelers will not need to quarantine under the reopening

A stuffed koala toy and a jar of Vegemite sit on a suitcase at Sydney Airport on Monday. (Brent Lewin/Bloomberg)
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Australia reopened for international travel on Monday, almost two years after the country closed its borders to tourists.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a news conference Sunday that 1.2 million people around the world were already “visaed up.”

“The wait is over,” he said. “The tourists are coming back, and my message to them is — to tourists all around the world — pack your bags.”

A local's guide to Sydney

British tourist Sue Witton told Sky News on Monday that she hadn’t seen her son for 724 days, as they reunited at Melbourne Airport.

“I don’t want to let him go, it’s just beautiful,” she said.

There are no quarantine requirements for vaccinated visitors under the reopening. The exception is Western Australia, the largest state by land area, which continues to require travelers to quarantine for seven days until a planned change on March 3.

Unvaccinated tourists over age 12 remain must quarantine for 14 days unless they have a valid exemption.

Australia to reopen to vaccinated visitors

For the first 18 months of the pandemic, Australia barred almost all visitors, earning it the nicknames of “Fortress Australia” and the “Hermit Kingdom,” and required returning citizens and residents to pay for two weeks of costly hotel quarantine. Caps on returning Australians meant many were stuck overseas, unable to see ailing loved ones or attend weddings or funerals.

Restrictions were lifted for immunized Australians in November. International students, some foreign workers and family members of citizens and permanent residents were allowed to return in mid-December, despite an omicron outbreak causing one of the world’s sharpest spikes in infections.

Michael E. Miller contributed to this report.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

Where do things stand? See the latest covid numbers in the U.S. and across the world. In the U.S., pandemic trends have shifted and now White people are more likely to die from covid than Black people.

The state of public health: Conservative and libertarian forces have defanged much of the nation’s public health system through legislation and litigation as the world staggers into the fourth year of covid.

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Vaccines: The CDC recommends that everyone age 5 and older get an updated covid booster shot. New federal data shows adults who received the updated shots cut their risk of being hospitalized with covid-19 by 50 percent. Here’s guidance on when you should get the omicron booster and how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections.

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