Australia said Tuesday it will lift the entry ban on international cruise ships next month, effectively ending all major travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic after two years.
The cruise ship entry ban took effect in March 2020 following an incident where around 2,700 passengers, some symptomatic with COVID-19 infections, were allowed to disembark a cruise ship in Sydney, sparking one of Australia's largest outbreaks of the virus in the early days of the pandemic.
The decision not to extend the ban once it lapses on April 17 was based on medical advice, according to health minister Greg Hunt, who said in a statement that the lifting is "consistent with the reopening of Australia's international border" and shows that its response to the pandemic has succeeded.
Under the new policy, passengers will need to be double vaccinated, and entry will depend on the readiness of each state and territory to accept cruise ships at ports within their jurisdiction.
The decision to allow international cruise ships to return to Australia comes about a month after its border was reopened to fully vaccinated tourists.
Australia welcomed more than 600,000 cruise ship passengers in 2019 from almost 350 vessels, according to Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.