Australia delays border reopening by 14 days over Omicron variant

Australia is delaying the next stage of easing the international border until more is known about the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

International students, workers and family visa holders were due to arrive in Australia from tomorrow, but now won’t be allowed in until the 15th of December.

It comes as Australia’s total of Omicron cases grows to five overnight, with four infections in New South Wales and one in Darwin.


The National Security Committee met last night where they made the decision, which is so far being supported by medical officials as well.

AMA Vice President Doctor Chris Moy has told Nine Radio that it’s better to act hard and fast with the new variant, rather than to wait and see how it plays out.

“At the moment it is better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

“And I think the big lesson right throughout Covid has been to act fast and act hard rather than waiting around.

“Because if we miss the boat and it turns out we’re facing something more serious, you’ve missed your chance,” Dr Moy said.

It means that businesses who’ve been desperate for more skilled labour will have to wait until right before Christmas to be able to get staff in for the busy summer period.

Federal Minister Karen Andrews has told the ABC that the economic cost of the delay is not lost on them.

“We are very, very keen to make sure that our borders are reopened as soon as possible,” Minister Andrews said. 

“We understand how difficult it is to get the skilled labour needed by so many businesses here in Australia and of course we want to welcome back international students as soon as possible.

“So this is a 14-day pause, whilst we gather the information that we need about this particular variant.”

More worryingly, there are concerns that individual states may also be considering delaying their border reopenings.

For Queensland, this could put our December 17 reopening date in jeopardy.

As of Monday afternoon, the Premier insisted everything was proceeding as normal.

However, Minister Karen Andrews says a ‘number of settings’ may change as a result of this new variant.

I think we have all got to be conscious as we continue to live and work in the COVID environment that means things may happen from time to time which will mean a particular course of action needs to be taken.

“Now, we’ve seen an example of that in relation to the Omicron variant, where the federal government has taken the decision to pause the reopening of our borders for 14 days.

“The national plan made it very clear that at times, there would be decisions that would need to be taken, that might change a number of settings,” Minister Andrews told the ABC. 

“That’s (domestic borders) a matter for the state and territory governments to determine.

“We have been very keen federally to focus on the international borders because that’s our key responsibility.

“Look, so far the state and territory first ministers have been very, very conscious of the impacts of the Omicron variant but they’ve been taking advice and they’ve been excellent to deal with.

“They have made it very clear that they are focused on finding out more about this particular variant and what the impacts are.

“So it has been a very measured response from everyone here in Australia. And that’s very positive,” Minister Andrews added.