Australia’s race to vaccination has led to more queries about “Australian borders for international students.” Under the country’s four-phase plan out of the pandemic, Australian borders could gradually reopen once 80% of adults have been fully vaccinated while lockdown restrictions would be eased when 70% of the population is fully vaccinated.
Phase B of the national plan refers to international border caps, including increasing caps for inbound travellers, allowing capped entry of students and economic visa holders and introducing reduced quarantine arrangements for vaccinated residents to Australian borders.
Some states, however, have hinted that they would like to reopen borders sooner than others. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the national plan allows states to start international travel again even if other states were still reluctant to open their international borders.
So, will this mean international students would be able to fly to certain states or territories before the country reopens as one? Here’s a round-up of what we know so far regarding Australian borders for international students:
New South Wales
Last week, news.com.au reported that New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian reportedly told the media that she will ease restrictions and attempt to resume international travel when vaccination targets are met, regardless of what other states do.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria will begin to ease restrictions once 70% of eligible Victorians have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. In the meantime, the lockdown will continue and the border with NSW remains closed, reported ABC News.
In a separate report by The Age, it said under initial modelling, the state was set to hit 70% single-dose vaccination targets on Sept. 23, but Andrews on Sunday (Sept. 5) said Victoria was on track to reach the milestone sooner.
In the Australian Financial Review, Andrews said Victoria was still supporting – and the new road map would be consistent with – the national reopening plan.
According to ABC News, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is reportedly looking at higher than 70% vaccination rates before he reopens the territory. He hopes that when Australia hits 80%, ACT residents will be 90% vaccinated. In SBS News, however, Barr signalled the ACT would not automatically follow the NSW government’s lead in relaxing restrictions at 70% full vaccination coverage.
According to nine.com.au, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said he sees no reason to rush the reopening of Western Australia’s borders even when vaccination rates past 80%. It’s possible that the state would only reopen early next year.
McGowan said his goal was for his state to reach full-vaccination levels of 80 to 90% before he’d set a date for the state’s reopening. “That may be two months from then. That would allow everyone who wanted to get vaccinated to get vaccinated,” said McGowan. WA’s vaccination rate is currently one of the lowest in Australia, said the report. It is on track to reach 80% double-dose vaccination in early December for individuals aged 16 and over.
Australian borders for international students: Nothing set in stone
Australia’s national plan notes the following: “The Plan is based on the current situation and is subject to change if required.” Ultimately, states don’t necessarily have to comply with Australia’s national plan to reopen its international borders once 80% of people have been vaccinated, which makes queries about “Australian borders for international students” much harder to answer.