Fully vaccinated travellers can now enter Tasmania after the state government relaxed border rules in time for Christmas.
People entering the island state from certain high-risk areas must apply for a border pass and return a negative COVID-19 test in the 72 hours before they arrive.
Watch Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein speak to Sunrise about the major change above
Unvaccinated people will still need to apply for a travel exemption to enter.
“We’re prepared, we’re ready and we’re looking forward to welcoming people back after all over the country,” Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein told Sunrise of the near two-year closure on Wednesday.
“There are many Tasmanians who are looking forward to seeing people again after what’s been a pretty long 22-months.
“We’re one of the most vaccinated places on the planet here in Tasmania, opening up after a period of nearly two years with very little covid at all.”
Tasmania has been largely spared the internal restrictions implemented across Australia and has been essentially free of virus cases in the community since a deadly outbreak early last year.
With a population of more than 541,000, the state had 238 cases in total and 13 deaths.
The state government released border-reopening modelling a few months ago which predicts 87 deaths in the six months from December and 50,000 cases.
The health department said the system is prepared although several unions have raised concerns about staff levels.
External triage areas have been prepared at major hospitals to facilitate greater patient screening in the event of community transmission.
State Health Commander Kathrine Morgan-Wicks said a virus surge capacity of 211 beds statewide exists, plus a critical care surge capacity of 114 beds.
More than 90 per cent of Tasmanians aged over 16 are fully vaccinated.
“While other states have opened their borders at 80 per cent, we took the very sensible decision to wait until we had 90 per cent,” Mr Gutwein said.
Tasmania has been swift to implement border restrictions during the pandemic to safeguard a population that is older than the national average.
– with AAP