One of the “early” staple calendar events in Australia is always the Australian Open. Even in 2021, they managed to hold the major tennis tournament under challenging conditions and a never ending barrage of quarantine stories.
Long after the tournament, the barrage of stories about Australia carried on, but rather than tennis, the subject was on the constantly evolving question of when the country would reopen.
For the 2022 edition of the Australian Open, a new sort of story is emerging. The tournament may have just leaked major border news about Australia’s planned travel reopening, in correspondence to players, media and their teams.
“Important Update” From Australia
Tournament organizers for the Australian Open got in touch with participants and stakeholders today to share exciting news and “important updates”.
“As you may have heard over the last few days, Australia is now beginning to ease travel restrictions. Victoria and NSW are on track to reopen to fully vaccinated intl travelers from 1st December, 2021, without requiring 14 days of hotel quarantine.”
If true, this alone, is major news. The letter does not in any way suggest these plans are exclusive to athletes or exempted people, but make it sound as if its for everyone, or at least citizens or people from travel bubble countries from that date.
It’s certainly possible that “citizens” is what’s meant, but that’s not the word used and these players are largely not traveling on Australian passports.
The concept of a 7 day home quarantine for citizens was the strongest hope in recent messages from government officials, let alone quarantine free travel for visitors. The Tennis Australia messages continue to note that Melbourne will hit 80% vaccination by the end of the week, and 90% next month, which could be largely responsible for the potential good news.
The message, which was shared with GSTP, goes onto say that arrivals would be able to proceed directly to their accommodation for the tournament and would not be required to arrive via charter flights, as previously expected. Commercial flights into the country are expected in number by December 1st.
All vaccinated visitors would be required to submit a negative covid-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, and also to take a test within 24 hours of arrival.
Could It Be, Australia?
Tennis Australia is not the Australian Federal Government, or the official Victorian Government. However, it’s a major body working daily with each of these governments to ensure a safe and positive tournament, which brings great benefit to Australia.
If anyone is going to be plugged into the current thinking and border moves of these official bodies, it’s going to be tournament officials crafting policies for vaccinated and unvaccinated players making the trip.
I’m not going to be booking any December 1st flights without any special visas, but I’m also going to start thinking about planning trips for early 2022. Even if these rules are only initially for some, the direction is clearly there.
These 80% and 90% levels of vaccination are highly compelling for opening borders, particularly as boosters are introduced globally. If they can do it for players, the public would have the right to know why they aren’t included too.
Basically, I think it’s a real, early sign that Australia is opening imminently. We’ll have to wait and see!