Quarantine? Depends on students’ citizenship, says Australia

Students flying in from Singapore won’t need to isolate, as long as they’re from Singapore

November 2, 2021
A temporary tent set up for public covid-19 drive through tests in Melbourne in July 2021 during the state's fifth lockdown to try to get the delta variant of the coronavirus eliminated.
Source: iStock

Update: see our 12 November article on New South Wales’ lifting of quarantine requirements for international students

The first planeload of international students to reach Sydney in 21 months currently face requirements to spend their initial fortnight in quarantine – a prospect other foreigners from the same embarkation point will avoid.

Australia’s quarantine-free travel agreement with Singapore has highlighted the increasing incoherence of the country’s border arrangements, as citizenship rather than risk of viral transmission determines entry requirements for many international travellers.

Under the agreement, fully vaccinated Singaporean visitors will not be required to quarantine from 21 November when they arrive in Australian states with high immunisation levels – including New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria – as long as they have tested negative for Covid in the previous 72 hours.

“Australia is slinging its doors open to fully vaccinated Singaporean travellers in November,” prime minister Scott Morrison said, after confirming the agreement with Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome.

While Singaporeans must depart from their homeland to be considered eligible, there is no requirement for them to have spent the previous fortnight in the country. But non-Singaporeans leaving the city state must still quarantine on arrival in Australia, even if they have been on the island since before the Covid outbreak.

Such people are likely to include non-Singaporean students enrolled at the four Australian university branch campuses in Singapore, or undertaking programmes from over a dozen other Australian universities via private partners like Kaplan, Navitas or Singapore Institute of Management. Many of these people plan to finish their studies in Australia.

Arrangements will become even more disjointed on 6 December, when the first charter flight under NSW’s pilot plan for the return of international students is expected to land in Sydney after departing from Singapore.

Under current arrangements, the 250-odd passengers will be marched off to quarantine for a fortnight in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, at a cost of about A$9,000 (£5,000) each.

Australian media have given conflicting accounts of student quarantine requirements in the NSW pilot, reflecting growing confusion among students and providers – and frustration at Study NSW, an international education promotional arm of state government agency Investment NSW.

An Investment NSW spokeswoman said the NSW government was “in contact with the commonwealth government to clarify protocols for returning international students to ensure they can enjoy the same freedoms afforded to international travellers…We will confirm any update as soon as we have it.”

Most foreign students arriving in Victoria also face quarantine requirements, even though returning Australian citizens and residents no longer need to isolate.

Mr Morrison made citizenship a factor in arrival conditions when he overruled NSW premier Dominic Perrottet’s mid-October promise to drop quarantine requirements for all fully vaccinated international travellers from 1 November, insisting that only Australian citizens and residents would enjoy such freedoms.

In better news for international students, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration has announced that the Sinopharm and Covaxin vaccines from China and India will now be “recognised” for the purpose of establishing travellers’ immunisation status.

Some 15 per cent of would-be students from India have been inoculated with Covaxin, with Sinopharm vaccines used by between 50 and 60 per cent of those from Nepal and Sri Lanka, according to a survey by AECC Global.


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Reader's comments (3)

It's an act of Racism and nothing else! Before opening up their borders, the Australian said a lot about importance of vaccination but now top of the importance is Nationality of either Singapore or Australia. If this is the norm then why do we even need to show vaccination certificate and what's the importance of it anymore? Nothing, right? Because even after having double dose of Pfizer, I will still have to quarantine just because I am not the citizen of these two countries while the citizens of these countries will roam free! Wow, simply wow!!
Fuck Australia and her racist policies. They claim that only citizens are allowed to fly quarantine free cuz of the Australians stranded overseas and not wanting us "non Australians" taking up their spots. This doesn't make sense as Australians are allowed to go in and out freely so they also are taking up spots. Honestly fuck this racist country
Actually Australian citizens have white skins which repel COVID-19 and that is why they are immue to virus. Other citizens especially from Asian countries and with dark skin color including international students carry COVID-19 like a hundred of them as it penetrates in their skin. It is no way a racism, It is Australian way, you can ask native tribes.