The decision to allow fully vaccinated eligible visa holders to enter Australia from December 1 without a travel exemption is much more than a conveniently timed pre-election "announcable" for the beleaguered Morrison government.
It, along with the recent relaxation of COVID-19 lockdowns in the ACT, NSW and Victoria, is proof Australia is moving into the next phase of the coronavirus battle and that 2022 should look very different to the last two years.
This development has been made possible by the willingness of the vast majority of Australians to do the right thing by being vaccinated.
Once a vaccination laggard, Australia is now close to the top of the pack when it comes to the percentage of people who are fully immunised. As of Tuesday more than 95 per cent of Canberrans and 85 per cent of Australians had been double dosed.
While the government has come under fire from the higher education sector, the travel and tourism industries and enterprises reliant on high numbers of backpackers and international workers for keeping the border closed for so long there has been widespread community support for way the staged reopening has been managed.
To have reopened earlier, especially given the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant which has wrought havoc around the globe, would have been foolhardy in the extreme.
This action could not, and should not, have been taken until the current high rates of vaccination had been achieved. Quarantine facilities would have been overwhelmed and fresh outbreaks would have been inevitable.
By prioritising the return of Australian citizens and permanent residents - who have been allowed in without the need for exemptions since November 1 - authorities have been able to field test the structures that have been put in place to manage the anticipated influx of more than 200,000 international travellers over the coming months.
This does not mean that all of the sectors that have suffered as a result of the almost two year long border closure are going to be able to snap back overnight however.
The future of the international education sector, once Australia's third largest export industry with a pre-pandemic worth of $40 billion a year remains unclear.
The US, the UK, Canada and many other countries all allowed overseas students in while Australia's drawbridge was up. It remains to be seen just how many of those who were studying here before the outbreak will return in 2022.
This may also be the case with some of the skilled migrants, backpackers and seasonal workers forced to scratch Australia off their list of possibilities since early in 2020.
International tourism is another area of uncertainty despite the decision to allow fully vaccinated holiday makers from Japan and Korea in from December 1. This is because of the confusion surrounding quarantine requirements.
While overseas travellers can enter NSW, the ACT and Victoria without quarantining that is not so in the other jurisdictions including the tourism dependent states of Queensland and Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.
That said, there is cause for joy for humanitarian visa holders and refugees. The Prime Minister's confirmation that he regards the 3000 humanitarian visas for Afghan refugees as "a floor not a ceiling" is very welcome.
This cohort, like Australians in general, now have cause to hope that 2022 is going to be much a better year than those that have preceded it.
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