Australia reopening: Queensland to allow British students and working holidaymakers back in from this weekend

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Queensland’s Gold Coast, Australia (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Queensland’s Gold Coast, Australia (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The Australian state of Queensland has announced that it will welcome vaccinated international students and Working Holiday Makers (WHM) from this Saturday, 22 January.

“Fully vaccinated Working Holiday Makers, students and some other visa categories originating from eligible international locations all around the world and travelling on approved visas can enter Australia without needing to quarantine,” reads a statement from the state tourist board.

Although quarantine is waived, these groups will have to take a Covid test (antigen permitted) within 24 hours of arrival.

“As international travel restrictions continue to ease, there is now an exciting opportunity in particular for eligible Working Holiday Makers and students on relevant visas to travel from the UK to work in Queensland’s wonderful tourism and events industry or learn in some of the world’s most unique classrooms,” said the CEO of Tourism and Events Queensland, Leanne Coddington.

There are also health restrictions on the ground: “Once in Queensland, visitors must abide by all Public Health Directions currently in place including mask wearing and showing proof of vaccination to enter venues,” adds the statement.

Several Australian states had planned to start a phased reopening from early December, but this was pushed back in November amid panic around the Omicron variant.

“The temporary pause will ensure Australia can gather the information we need to better understand the Omicron variant, including the efficacy of the vaccine, the range of illness, including if it may generate more mild symptoms, and the level of transmission,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at the time.

The country has “safe travel zone” arrangements with Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore already in place, enabling fully vaccinated travellers with the right visas to visit from those nations.

Earlier today the state of Western Australia announced that it will delay its proposed reopening date of 5 February due to widespread Omicron cases.

“From 12.01am on Saturday 5 February, the hard border will stay, with new settings that will have a focus on both safety and compassion,” said the state’s premier, Mark McGowan.

“Allowing hundreds or thousands of Omicron-infected people to fly straight into Perth from 5 February with no testing, no quarantine and no public health measures would cause a flood of Covid across our state. It would cause a surge in cases, a surge in hospitalisations, and result in thousands of people not being able to work or go to school. We know that bad health outcomes lead to economic pain,” he added.

He did not give a set date for the postponed border opening.

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