Can Americans travel to Australia, one of the safest places on Earth, during the pandemic?

can americans travel to australia
Photo via Pedro Szekely/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
  • This story is regularly updated for relevance. Last updated: July 9, 2021

Australia’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made the country one of the safest in the world right now. But as enticing as life in Australia may seem, the nation is continuing a border shutdown for the foreseeable future to stay that way. That means Americans can not travel to Australia. 

Can anybody fly to Australia?

Life in Australia is steadily returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, as restaurants and bars are re-opening, and there are even crowds at concerts and sporting events.

But as of March 2021, one year after the pandemic began, Australia’s borders are closed to international travelers. Australian citizens, residents, and immediate family members are allowed to cross the border. Foreign cruise ships are not allowed to enter Australian waters, and the government threatened to jail Australians who were trying to return from India.

Those who are traveling to Australia must provide proof of a negative COVID test upon arrival, and they must quarantine for 14 days.

Australia has had relatively few COVID cases thanks to these border closures, mandatory quarantines, and lockdowns, effective testing and tracing, and compliance with public health guidelines. All of it has drawn the praise of infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, but it has certainly affected the way of life for some, including the Olympic baseball team.

As more Australian citizens get vaccinated in the coming months, international travel may begin to reopen. Though the country was originally aiming to offer vaccinations to all citizens by October 2021, it was clear by mid-April that Australia would fall short of that goal. Now, some experts believe everybody could be vaccinated by Christmas.

Meanwhile, many Australian natives are waiting in line to return to their home country.

“The timing of the vaccination will also help facilitate possible international travel in the near future so we can continue to prosecute vital national interests with our international partners,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

Still, not everything is perfectly safe in Australia. As of early June 2021, the city of Melbourne was in the middle of a two-week lockdown after the coronavirus infection rate began to rise again.

Australia and New Zealand to team up for travel bubble

Australians can now visit New Zealand as part of the “trans-Tasman travel bubble.” Australia is also working to allow citizens to travel to other nearby countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Fiji, and New Caledonia, though it will take longer to coordinate. 

As for international travelers, Qantas, Australia’s largest airline, recently started selling plane tickets for October 2021 from more than 20 locations, including Los Angeles. Though this is not a definitive start date for international travel, it is a hopeful sign that by the end of 2021, Americans can travel to Australia once again. 

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Sources: Australian Department of Health, Reuters, TimeOut

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