Australia will lift a ban on citizens travelling overseas without permission, the government announced today (Wednesday), with the country’s border set to open to skilled workers and international students by year’s end.

More than 18 months after Australia closed its international borders, fully vaccinated citizens will no longer have to seek an exemption to leave the country, a joint statement from the health and home affairs ministries said.

Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews said that while Australian citizens were currently being prioritised, more travel restrictions — including for some non-citizens — would be eased as vaccination rates increased.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who foreshadowed the changes earlier this month, said Australia was now “very close” to announcing a reciprocal travel bubble with Singapore, which announced late Tuesday that Australians no longer had to quarantine on arrival.

“We’re working to a timetable around about then which will see other visa-holders — in addition to Australians returning or going to Singapore and returning who are double vaccinated — being able to come to Australia,” said the Prime Minister.

For almost 600 days, countless international flights have been grounded, and overseas travel has slowed to a trickle.

Quarantine arrangements for returning vaccinated residents will depend on where they arrive in Australia.