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Australia to remove pre-departure testing and allow cruise ships again

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Bondi Beach, Sydney (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Just three weeks after Australia completely lifted its travel ban on vaccinated foreign visitors, the government has announced it will remove its pre-departure testing rule next month.

Greg Hunt, the health minister, said that when the Covid-19 emergency restrictions expire on April 17, they will not be renewed.

From that date, fully vaccinated travelers entering Australia will no longer need to submit a negative pre-departure test result; currently, they must take a PCR test within three days of travel or an antigen test within 24 hours.

But passengers will need to wear a mask during international flights to Australia and fill out a Digital Passenger Declaration, including details of their vaccinations.

Unvaccinated travelers to Australia will still need a valid travel waiver (special permit difficult to obtain) plus quarantine on arrival.

Restrictions on cruise ship entry into and within Australia, imposed on March 15, 2020, will also end on April 17.

At a news conference announcing the change, Hunt said: “Since the vaccination and masking requirements remain, the strong medical advice is that [pre-departure tests] It would no longer be necessary, particularly as there are some challenges in some jurisdictions in accessing or improving such tests.

“So, I spoke to the CEOs of Virgin Airlines, [board president of Tennis Australia] Jayne Hrdlicka and Qantas, Alan Joyce. But we also took the medical advice of the medical director on this, and that was the opinion, that we phase out items that are no longer needed.”

On February 21, 2022, most of Australia ended a ban on almost all international arrivals that had been in place for almost two years.

Western Australia followed suit, easing its restrictions on foreign visitors on March 3.

In the year to the end of January 2022, international tourism to Australia was down 97 per cent compared to the same period to the end of January 2019.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Australia welcomed 9.4 million international visitors a year, with tourism providing one in 20 jobs.

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