December 10, 2021

How Will Omicron Affect My Travel Plans? Everything We Know So Far

In the last few days, news of the Omicron strain of COVID-19 has disrupted the world. Understandably, it is bringing into question the outlook for 2022, although we await further research and advice. While we can’t look into the crystal ball and predict the future, here is a breakdown of what we know so far and how Omicron is currently impacting international travel and round the world trips.

What is Omicron?

First detected in Southern Africa, Omicron is the latest variant of COVID-19 to be found. Since its discovery in early November, the strain has spread to a growing number of countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Germany and Italy. At this stage, little is known about the virus’ transmissibility, the severity of the strain, and the strength of current vaccinations, however, scientists are actively studying all this.

How have the quarantine procedures changed?

Those who have come from the countries in question – South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi and the Seychelles – are subject to 14 days of quarantine, regardless of any previous vaccination.

Upon returning to Australia, all other incoming overseas travellers to New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT must self-isolate for at least 72 hours. They are also required to get tested as a precautionary measure. On the other hand, South Australia has immediately enforced a 14-day quarantine for all international travellers and those coming into the state from high risk areas within Australia.

As before, any unvaccinated traveller is required to enter hotel quarantine for 14 days when arriving in NSW, VIC and the ACT. Currently, the opening for travellers from Japan and South Korea to enter Australia without quarantining (from December 1st) is still going ahead as planned.

Can I still travel?

Most countries are reacting similarly to Australia at this stage, with restricted travel from and to the Southern Africa region. Israel has taken a hard-line approach and closed borders to all foreign nationals for a period of two weeks.

At this stage, there are no greater impacts on your international travel plans, however, more PCR tests are almost guaranteed. Entry requirements (and re-entry to Australia) will update accordingly and as required in line with the WHO’s findings.

What precautions should I take?

If travelling at this time, maintain vigilance around hygiene and health. As recommended by the WHO, wear face masks, ensure optimal hand hygiene and at least 1 metre social distancing. Follow local rules, ensure vaccination and be aware and across the relevant updates.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet highlights that international authorities are still investigating the risks of Omicron, so the news will continue to develop. Stay up to date with the latest international travel news here and contact our friendly Airfare Geeks team for advice and planning.

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