Fortress Australia Lowers Drawbridge to the World: Reopens After Two-Year Isolation

Drag queen Penny Tration waves to passengers on arrival at Sidney Airport on February 21,
Lisa Maree Williams/Getty

Australia’s borders reopened on Monday as tearful Aussies and visitors embraced at airports with some seeing loved ones for the first time since the country went into self-imposed isolation back in 2020.

Over 50 flights are scheduled to land in Australia in the next24-hours as Aussies around the world return to their families.

While Australians and some others were granted permission to return at the end of last year, this border opening allowed multiple other individuals to enter.

The state of Western Australia is however an exception and they will not be opening their borders until the 3rd of March and only to triple jabbed individuals, the BBC reports.

Dan Tehan, Australia’s Minister of Trade, called the arrival of visitors “wonderful, wonderful news for our tourism industry and the 660,000 people employed in it”.

A passenger arrives at Sydney Airport on February 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. Australia is welcoming fully-vaccinated international travellers for the first time since closing its borders to all non-citizens and non-residents in March 2020 to limit the spread of COVID-19. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

A young surf life saver hands out gifts to an arriving passenger at Sydney Airport on February 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Australia’s  tough border policy has caused massive disruption to their economy, with Aussie businesses losing out on an estimated 9.5 million tourists who visit the land down under.

There is however a stipulation to entry. Unvaccinated arrivals are still being required to quarantine for two weeks, which they will be expected to self-fund.

The Australian Tourism Export Council’s latest survey found that 66 percent of tour operators have raised concerns over tourists being reluctant to return to the nation – most likely due to the harsh restrictions that were previously in place – despite Tourism Australia’s $40 million advertising campaign “Come and Say G’Day – Don’t Go Small” being launched in Western nations.

Australia had some of the world’s toughest coronavirus restrictions, with individuals at times being arrested for not wearing masks, individuals being forcibly detained in coronavirus camps despite having negative tests, police using rubber bullets to break up protests they deemed to be illegal, and vaccine mandates for certain professions.

Relieved passengers arrive at Sydney Airport on February 21, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

Despite having these tough restrictions, Australia is currently being hit with widespread coronavirus cases with it being reported the island nation has reached three million coronavirus cases with “the majority of them were recorded during the recent Omicron outbreaks”.

The nation’s reputation was also damaged following the Novak Djokovic deportation scandal, with an analysis of Google search trends showing in January that there was a 25 percent higher search rate for those seeking refunds for the Australian Open tennis competition than those looking to buy tickets.

Even former Aussie Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelled Australia’s approach to coronavirus as “heavy handed” and warned that governments are “becoming addicted to a crisis” in December 2021.


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