Australia, Israel, Thailand reopen borders to certain COVID-19 vaccinated travelers

A traveler is escorted by a hotel worker in a protective suit on Monday after arriving at Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Samut Prakan, Thailand. The country reopened its borders Monday for fully vaccinated tourists from low-risk nations. Photo by Rungroj Yongrit/EPA-EFE

Nov. 1 (UPI) — Australia, Israel and Thailand all lifted COVID-19 travel restrictions on Monday for the first time in more than a year, allowing entry for passengers with proof of vaccination.

The Australian government said that vaccinated citizens will be able to travel internationally without needing exemptions and return without mandatory quarantine, if they travel to New Zealand.

The change on Monday applies only to Australian citizens and permanent residents, but officials expect to reopen borders to vaccinated international travelers by the end of the year.

Officials also said that vaccinated foreign travelers who have worker and student visas will be given priority over tourists.

Under the new policy, travelers must have been in Australia or New Zealand for 14 days prior to the quarantine-free travel and must take a predeparture COVID-19 test within three days of travel. They also must show documented proof of vaccination.

“Australia’s rapidly increasing vaccination coverage has put us in good stead to take the next steps in reopening our borders to the world,” Australian Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly said in a statement.

Travelers are seen at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on September 22 next to an advertisement for Phuket, Thailand. Both Israel and Thailand lifted coronavirus travel restrictions on Monday for the first time in more than a year. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI

In Israel, where most foreign tourists have been barred, travelers who are vaccinated at least 180 days before their travel dates, and those who have recovered from the virus, are now allowed entry.

“The Israel Ministry of Tourism is pleased to welcome the long-awaited return of vaccinated individual tourists,” the ministry said Sunday, according to The Jerusalem Post. “Once again, tourists from around the world can make their reservations and enjoy the unique, varied and safe tourism products that Israel has to offer.”

Previously, a limited number of tourists were allowed to enter in organized groups, and relatives of citizens or residents were able to apply for travel permits.

Thailand also began to welcome travelers again on Monday if they come from one of more than 60 low-risk countries. The country also halted its mandatory two-week quarantine.

Dozens of flights with thousands of foreign travelers were scheduled to begin arriving on Monday, one airport manager told The Bangkok Post.