Australia is opening the floodgates for fully vaccinated nationals to travel overseas starting next week.
“I can announce today that last night the Health Minister signed off on the fact from the 1st of November, Australians who are double vaccinated will be able to travel overseas,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday on the 7News show “Sunrise.”
Previously, only Australian citizens and residents in states with vaccination rates of at least 80% were going to be eligible for overseas travel. However, Australia quickly achieved one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with more than 70% of Australians age 16 and up being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of last week, according to the prime minister.
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The vaccine requirement does not apply to Australians who are under age 12 or unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons.
Leaving the country is still off the table for unvaccinated residents and citizens unless they qualify for an exemption.
Australia has had some of the strictest COVID-19 measures in the world throughout the pandemic.
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Prime Minister Morrison said states can still set rules on quarantines.
“All the same rules have to apply to everyone,” he told 7News. “If I wasn’t double vaccinated when I got home from Glasgow, I’d be doing two weeks of quarantine in Sydney, so the same rules apply to everyone, whether you’re a grand slam winner, a prime minister or a business traveller, a student or whoever. Same rules.”
Foreign tourists are still not allowed to visit Australia.
Contributing: Bailey Schulz, Josh Rivera, USA TODAY