For the first time in nearly two years, Australia will reopen its international borders. From February 21, fully vaccinated tourists can enter the country as COVID-19 infection and death rates continue to decline. Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the lifting of the long-standing travel ban as the government moves to revive the country’s tourism industry which has heavily relied on the domestic market since the start of the pandemic.
The move is good news for poker players as they can now travel to Australia to take part in major festivals there, including three stops recently announced by the World Poker Tour (WPT).
Borders Reopened Just in Time for WPT Australia
Last week, the WPT unveiled three major events in Australia in partnership with The Star Entertainment Group. One of them is a WPTDeepStacks event which will take place at The Star Sydney in March. After that, the tour will head over to The Star Gold Coast in Queensland to hold two separate events, one of which will be a championship tournament.
Australia has closed its international borders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic back in 2020. While it has allowed entry to residents in neighboring countries like New Zealand and Singapore since November of last year, Oz has remained closed to the rest of the world.
When the Australia stops were announced, it wasn’t clear yet when the country would finally welcome back international travelers. With the ban in place, players from most parts of the world would not be able to enter Australia which would have an impact on the attendance numbers.
That was not an issue for the WPT though, as the WPTDeepStacks event held in Queensland in 2021 was able to pull in huge crowds despite the closed borders. The Main Event attracted a record-breaking 1,113 entrants to generate more than $1 million in total prize money.
That being said, the re-opening of the borders is still something the WPT and poker players around the world can celebrate. With travel restrictions now removed, the three announced WPT stops in Oz are expected to attract massive turnouts.
Complete Guide to Entering Australia
If you’re planning to travel to Australia, you must be fully vaccinated (received two doses or one according to the vaccine brand). The government will strictly implement the vaccine mandate, with Prime Minister Morrison reminding everyone that no one is above the law.
Once you enter Australia, you must comply with local rules. Each state implements different restrictions in relation to social distancing and the wearing of face masks. At the moment, New South Wales is enforcing facemask and COVID pass requirements at indoor gatherings.
Here’s the complete guide to entering Australia:
First, you must be fully vaccinated. Do not attempt to travel if you are unvaccinated because you will be asked to provide vaccination proof before you board a flight and/or upon arrival.
Second, make sure that you have a tourist visa. This is among the standard requirements for people visiting Oz. Also, be reminded that pandemic-related restrictions differ from one state to another.
Next, you need to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or NAAT (nucleic acid amplification) test no more than 72 hours before departure. You can have an antigen test as an alternative, taken 24 hours before departing.
Finally, you are required to sign an Australian Travel Declaration form within 72 hours before leaving.
The WPT stops are just three of the major poker events happening in Australia this year. More could be announced soon especially as the country has now lifted its travel ban.