Omicron, Australia & Holidays: What happens to post-lockdown travel now?

Travel BlogOmicron variant, Australia & Travel
Listen to Omicron, Australia & Holidays: What happens to post-lockdown travel now?

Travel Update: January 21, 2022

Good news, international Aussie travellers! In the latest development to ease and de-clutter travel and holidaying, Australia has announced that a simple rapid antigen test a day before travel is all that’s needed to enter the country. The federal government said that it recognised the need to simplify exiting and entering the country and therefore, will be implementing the rule from Sunday (January 23) onwards. Currently, the rules stipulate the more expensive RT-PCR test taken three days before travel.

The announcement also included more good news in the works. In case of travellers contracting COVID-19, there is a call to reduce quarantine time from the current 14 days to something more manageable. But we’ll have to wait for the Australian government to mull on that. For now, the above news is great for restoring travel back to normal!

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On November 29th of 2021, the Australian Government paused its long-awaited reopening of borders after three cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant were recorded. Australia, which had long-awaited plans of reopening borders for cross-border travel, had clamped down all travel for a spell again. This has predictably caused travellers – both who wanted to enter the country for holidaying and Aussies who were waiting patiently to go abroad – to have good cause for worry. After a chance to book tickets, relax and finally put a date on holiday plans, the announcement to close borders again was a tough pill for hundreds of thousands, if not millions.

So what does… all this mean for travelling to and outside Australia? What about Bula Bubble, Tasman Bubble, and all the other bubbly arrangements?

Wait, What is Omicron again?

This is the WHO-designated name of a new COVID-19 virus first found in South Africa, Botswana and a few other neighbouring African countries. Officially called COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, this was noted as a Variant of Concern by the WHO, as preliminary studies showed it has potential for outstripping the Delta variant in terms of infectiousness. And the Omicron variant has reached Australia via asymptomatic international travellers.

Is Omicron Worse Than Delta Variant?

As of right now, tentative research has suggested that Omicron has a lower impact on people that its Delta cousin. All researchers concur that it will take some time to test and ascertain how much more infectious or lethal this variant is compared to Delta. Or less, for that matter. Researchers have successfully sequenced the virus strain and are now teasing out important questions like does it cause reinfection more easily, how does it stack up in vaccine protection breakthrough exactly and other issues.

Travel is most definitely NOT off the table for Australia.

Travelling again after restrictions

To be fair, the government said it had paused the December 1 opening of borders for two weeks while it assessed and reviewed the situation with its panels of virologists and experts. That’s simply a logical move. Australia had locked down its borders for nigh 20 months now, and if it were a neighbour, we’d ask it to open the windows and go for a walk. And now, things are getting back to normal. There are Aussie travellers to Fiji and other parts of the world, and we could not be happier.

But as we’ve learnt of this pandemic, variants pop up with increasing frequency and we’ll be learning to live with the virus. Just like NSW Government said. We’ll learn to live with it, like the regular flu. Right now, the entire world is studying options on what Omicron variant can exactly do, and then come up with firm-er regulations and safety guidelines. Outright lockdowns and travel bans are slowly phased out, as they are just not feasible. Plus, with over 90% of adult Australia jabbed and raring to unleash neon budgie smugglers on to the world, we feel patience is the only answer right now.

What About Our Fiji Holiday Plans with Omicron Variant?

Travel is definitely back on the menu. There are Aussie families, adventurers and couples out and about. And the latest announcement from the Australian federal government is a big step in the right direction, we feel. For any other thoughts, doubts and brainwaves on happy travels in the South Pacific, our Specialists are ready to answer any queries – just ring us at 1300 991 751. You can also check out our COVID-19 blogs and the South Pacific, blogs on Fiji, Samoa, New Caledonia and more.

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