The Federal Government has announced that fully vaccinated eligible visa holders will be permitted into Australia without applying for a travel exemption from 1 December.

Eligible visa holders include skilled and student cohorts, as well as humanitarian, working holiday maker and provisional family visa holders.

This announcement will hopefully go some way to filling the current job vacancies, which have seen an 80 per cent rise from February 2020 to May 2021, as reported by the ATO.

Theo Foukkare, CEO Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement, stating that this is what the industry needs to address its labour shortages.

“AACS, along with other peak industry groups, have been advocating extremely strongly for many months over the course of the pandemic. The channel in Australia is currently short approximately 15,000 team members compared to normal, which has presented significant challenges for our members.

“Ultimately, this is a Federal Government issue, however the NSW, Victorian and QLD State Governments have applied immense pressure up the line, and we are extremely pleased with this news.”

Foukkare said he hoped this announcement would ease the number of staff leaving to other retail industries.

“In time, this should also slow down staff ‘poaching’ between retail competitors, as well as alleviate the drain across to restaurants, cafes, and pubs who are paying anywhere between $50 – $90 an hour to get staff just to open back up to their normal trading hours.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the return of students and skilled workers was a major milestone in the country’s pathway back.

“At first we said let’s get Australian’s home who are fully vaccinated and that’s been occurring. From the first of next month, we’ll be welcoming back students and those on skilled visas who are desperately needed to ensure we are able to take full advantage of the economic recovery that we are working to secure.”

For these visa holders to return they must first meet a number of provisions, including being fully vaccinated by a TGA approved vaccine, hold a valid visa, provide proof of they vaccination status, and present a negative PCR test taken within three days of departure.

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