There are reasons to be travel cheerful in 2022, despite the emergence of the COVID-19 Omicron variant.
1. We have vaccines against COVID-19, and they work. That opens the door to safe travel, and Australia is one of the most protected countries, with more than 90 per cent of the population aged over 16 double vaccinated. At this time last year, nobody in Australia was vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they'd received the vaccine overseas. The Pfizer vaccine was not approved by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration until late January 2021, AstraZeneca in mid-February.
2. We can now travel overseas without permission. Starting from March 25, 2020, anyone wanting to leave Australia needed to apply to the Department of Home Affairs for a travel exemption. Australia was one of the only countries in the world to impose such a ban on its residents. Today you can leave as you like, provided you comply with vaccine requirements at your destination, just as you might also require a visa.
3. Our state borders are open. Mostly, anyway. Vaccinated travellers from mainland Australia can travel to Tasmania, although those from high-risk areas (see coronavirus.tas.gov.au) must show a negative test, either a rapid antigen test (RAT) within 24 hours before departure or a PCR test within 72 hours. Vaccinated travellers from interstate can enter the Northern Territory but must take a RAT test within two hours of arrival. Western Australia plans to ease interstate and international borders from February 5 (see wa.gov.au).
4. We have also farewelled 14 days' mandatory hotel quarantine for returning travellers. Fully vaccinated Australian travellers returning from overseas to Victoria or NSW must go immediately to their home or accommodation, take a RAT or PCR test and self-isolate awaiting a negative result. Fully vaccinated travellers entering Queensland aboard a quarantine-free flight from a safe travel zone country (see qld.gov.au) can enter without the need to quarantine.
5. The rest of the world is opening up. Provided you're vaccinated, or have recovered from COVID-19, you can enter North America and Europe, although travelling around Europe is problematic due to non-recognition of Australia's international vaccine certificate. The Omicron variant is complicating travel in some of our favourite Asian destinations but you can look forward to the reopening of travel to New Zealand, scheduled for April 30.