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Universal ‘do not travel’ Smartraveller advice scrapped in dismantling of major travel obstacle

ASSA | 2021-10-28 09:14:06

One of the last standing obstacles for Australians hoping to travel overseas again has been dismantled.

When the pandemic began and the international borders closed, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s travel website, Smartraveller, issued a universal “do not travel” warning.

But with the reopening of the border only days away, that global advice has been downgraded.

Instead, country-by-country advice has been reinstated for 177 destinations.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the change will allow Australians to adequately prepare for safe overseas travel.

“The updated country-specific travel advice will allow Australians planning to travel overseas to assess risks, understand requirements, and prepare to travel safely,” she said in a statement.

“It will also help Australians to access travel insurance more readily.”

Under the adjusted travel advice, however, no country will listed as not being a travel risk.

“Under the travel advice framework announced today, no destination will be set lower than level 2 ‘Exercise a high degree of caution’, given the ongoing COVID-19 health risks and the continuing complexities of international travel,” Payne said.

Fully vaccinated Australians will also no longer require an exemption to leave the country from November 1.

Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan told Sunrise on Thursday that the change would only be afforded to fully vaccinated Australians.

“For all those who are fully vaccinated, as of November 1, Monday, you’re free to fly, free to leave the country and go wherever you want to go,” Tehan said.

“You’ve got to be fully vaccinated with your two doses to get out of Australia, otherwise you need to ask for an exemption.”

Australia is set to reach an 80 per cent double vaccination rate in a matter of days, ahead of the border reopening on November 1.

Tehan said travellers with two doses of a TGA-approved vaccine and a negative test won’t have to quarantine if they fly into NSW or Victoria.

But they will need to spend 14 days in a hotel quarantine if they land in other states.

“We’re looking to open up further and further safely and make sure that we can get international travel back to normal as soon as we possibly can.”

As of Thursday morning, 87.4 per cent of the eligible population has received a first dose of vaccine.

Some 74.8 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Australians can access the International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate, required to travel, by logging in to a Medicare online account through myGov or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more than half a million Australians had already downloaded theirs.