The health minister of Australia announced on Wednesday that fully vaccinated residents would finally be allowed to travel abroad starting on Nov. 1, a year and a half after borders were closed to most ingoing and outgoing travel.
“Fully vaccinated Australians will not require an exemption to depart Australia,” Greg Hunt, the country’s health minister, told reporters in Canberra. He added that they would also be able to return without restrictions.
The eased restrictions will be the first stage in Australia’s plan to reopen its international borders since slamming them shut on March 20, 2020, separating families and leaving thousands of Australians stranded overseas.
The second stage, Mr. Hunt said, will allow students and critical workers to enter the country and, eventually, see borders fully reopened to tourists and other visitors.
“It’s exciting,” said Kelsey May, 25, an Australian who returned home from Britain in March of 2020, and has been separated from her partner since. But, Ms. May added: “We’ve been told so many things over the past 18 months that haven’t come to fruition. We just want to see what happens.”
On Monday, the health authorities also approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine booster shots for those 18 and older. They said the decision would make the country among the most highly vaccinated places in the world.
Nationwide, 62 percent of eligible Australians have had two doses of the vaccine, and 74 percent have had one dose.
But Canberra, the capital, announced it had become the first jurisdiction in the country to fully vaccinate more than 90 percent of eligible residents age 12 and older.