Covid: Ban on vaccinated citizens leaving Australia lifted from next week

Australia has had tough travel rules since the Covid pandemic began in March 2020. Credit: AP

All Australian citizens and permanent residents who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to leave the country without a special exemption from next month, as the country eases coronavirus travel curbs.

A government waiver has been a condition of foreign travel for Australians for more than 18 months, as the country enforced some of the world's most stringent border rules to contain Covid.

But from November 1, people will no longer need an exemption to leave the country as long as they are fully vaccinated.

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Thousands of double-jabbed residents living abroad have been unable to return due to a limit on arrivals.

Many of these people are now set to return after Sydney and Melbourne ends quarantine restrictions for vaccinated travellers from November 1.

Under current rules, people can leave Australia - but only for exceptional reasons such as essential work or visiting a dying relative.

Last week, Melbourne celebrated "freedom day" after enduring 262 days overall in various lockdowns after the city, in the state of Victoria, met its 70% fully-vaccinated target, enabling restrictions to be gradually eased.

On Friday, ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner reported on the lifting of the world's longest Covid lockdown

Some states such as Queensland and Western Australia have said they may maintain closed borders until vaccine rates are even higher.

The government, though, has struck an optimistic national tone, with the Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews saying Australia is poised to welcome fully vaccinated skilled workers and international students "before the end of the year".

"The national plan is working," Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Seven News on Wednesday.

"It is about opening Australia up and that is because the vaccination rates are climbing so high."

The comments come after Australia's drug regulator provisionally approved a booster dose of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for people aged over-18, as first-dose vaccination levels in over-16's neared 90%.

The rollout is expected to begin by November 8.

Earlier this year, a third wave of infections triggered lockdowns in Australia's biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, which both have been slowly relaxing restrictions after hitting their respective vaccination targets.

Sydney's lockdown began in late June after a Delta variant outbreak took hold, leading to more than 50,000 infections and 439 deaths.

It spread to Melbourne and Canberra, prompting them to go into lockdown too.