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what you need to know to travel there at the end of the month

With the appearance of the Omicron variant, Australia abandoned its “zero Covid” policy in place since the start of the epidemic. Alan Smithers – stock.adobe.com

Closed for two years, the country will once again welcome vaccinated international visitors from Monday 21 February. Reception conditions for the French, local situation, flights… We tell you everything.

If you are doubly vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back in Australia “: these words, pronounced this Monday, February 7 at a press conference by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, sound like a relief for travelers wishing to visit the island-continent for a long time. Since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic in March 2020, Australia has been strictly closed to foreigners. Unless you are a resident or citizen, it is impossible to go there without a compelling reason and without respecting isolation on arrival.

From Monday, February 21, people with a complete vaccination schedule and a visa will be able to travel again to this vast territory of Oceania. Only the state of Western Australia, whose capital is Perth, will still remain closed to non-residents. “Australia has long been a popular destination for French travellers, with 144,000 travelers in 2019“Recalls the Australian tourist office. Before Covid-19, France was the destination’s sixteenth largest source market.

In November 2021, Australia had reopened its borders only to travelers from Singapore, Japan and South Korea. Since December 15, the country has been accessible to students and holders of a working holiday visa (PVT). To encourage the backpacker to take advantage of the destination, this visa is refunded for any arrival before April 19th.

These reductions in entry conditions foreshadowed a wider reopening. This is great news for travelers and tourism professionals“, explains Gérard Carnot, general manager of the travel agency Australia à la carte. And to clarify:After two years without welcoming international tourists, it will probably take several weeks of adaptation before the local guides are fully operational again.»

What are the entry requirements for French tourists?

Australia (here Sydney airport) had already started to timidly reopen its borders in November 2021 to travelers from a few countries, such as Singapore. Saeed Khan / AFP

Fully vaccinated travellers, i.e. having completed a complete vaccination schedule for at least 14 days, will be able to enter Australia without quarantine from February 21. Travelers must have received at least two doses of a vaccine recognized by the Australian authorities, including Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Janssen. Mixed vaccination (for example a dose of Moderna followed by a dose of Pfizer) is recognized by the authorities. Proof of vaccination is required from the age of 12. Please note that having received a single dose after an infection (or vice versa) is not a pattern recognized by the country; in this case, a booster is necessary to be considered as vaccinated.

All travelers must also have an antigen or PCR test carried out less than 24 hours before boarding. Details on entry requirements should be communicated by the government in the coming days, says the Australian Tourist Board on its website. In addition, it will still be mandatory to complete the Australia Travel Declaration (ATD) within 72 hours of departure. In particular, a telephone number and the planned travel itinerary are requested.

Visa holders who are not fully vaccinated will still need to have a valid travel exemption to enter Australia, and will be subject to state and territory quarantine requirements.

What flight offer?

Although there is no direct airline between France and Australia, many airlines offer this route with one or more stopovers: Emirates, Qatar Airways… The main Australian company, Qantas, provides a direct flight between London and Darwin in 16 hours 25. “For the moment, the air offer is greatly reduced, but it is to be expected that frequencies will be increased in March“says Gérard Carnot.

It is advisable to check the conditions that apply to travelers in transit. For example, passengers from France and seven other countries are currently not allowed to transit through Hong Kong airport.

The health situation in Australia

So far sheltered from the epidemic thanks to a strict “zero Covid” policy, Australia is undergoing the breakthrough of the Omicron variant which appeared in November. The number of new positive cases of Covid-19 has been decreasing since the beginning of January. On February 7, there were about 27,000 new cases, compared to 175,000 during the peak on January 12. The country has recorded 4,240 deaths linked to Covid-19. About 80% of the population is vaccinated.


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