Australia’s international borders will reopen from next month, allowing Aussies to take to the skies once more after 18 long months of domestic lockdown.
This means there will soon no longer be any international travel restrictions for vaccinated Australians, but that doesn’t mean every state and territory is open.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously announced that citizens will finally be able to leave and re-enter the country without asking for the governments permission after a decision was made at a meeting with the National Cabinet earlier in the month.
Depending on where you live, travellers will need to be fully vaccinated in order to fly and will have to quarantine at home for seven days upon return. They will also need an international COVID vaccination certificate in order to travel.
The PM has confirmed the new rules will come into place in early November.
Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated – for example, if they are under 12 or have a medical condition – will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.
The government is working towards completely quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand.
The plan is somewhat ahead of the federal government’s four-phase lockdown exit strategy that will see freedoms returned to the country in broad areas once the nation as a whole hits 80% full vaccination rate.
The ban on international travel had been set to continue until December 17, but the National Cabinet has decided to pull that date forward in response to the rising vaccination rates in Australia.
Under the new strategy, states and territories with an 80% full vaccination rate will be allowed to travel, while the rest will have to wait until their numbers increase.
Only some jurisdictions will have passed that number by the date set, with NSW expected to hit 80% by Monday, with the ACT close behind.
WA, QLD, and the NT are not expected to hit 80% until December however.
The government has already begun issuing COVID vaccination passports to those who want to travel and the documents will be required for incoming and outgoing passengers.
Australia’s borders were dramatically shut at the start of the COVID19 outbreak to all non-citizens and non-residents, with Australian citizens and permanent residents required to get a government travel exemption.
NSW Scrapping Quarantine Altogether
NSW has announced that it will open its borders to fully vaccinated international travellers and scrap quarantine measures entirely from 1 November.
Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that the people of NSW would “be travelling to Bali before Broome” when the changes come into place.
This is a massive policy shift that sees NSW return almost entirely to pre-pandemic levels of travel.
There are still some restrictions in place, however, as people entering Sydney from overseas will need to show proof that they’ve received both doses of a TGA-approved vaccine, and a negative COVID test before boarding their flight.
Anyone who is not fully vaccinated or has a jab not recognised by the TGA will still have to undertake hotel quarantine however only 210 spots will be made available for them each week.
“We are opening Sydney and NSW to the world, and that date will come in on November 1. [We] will work closely with the Commonwealth to ensure protections are in place so we keep people safe [as we] rejoin the world,” Perrottet said.
NSW, along with SA and QLD, had been trialling a home quarantine system whereby incoming people would have to stay at home for seven days after arrival but that appears to have been done away with.
“We can’t live here in hermit kingdom. So many businesses rely on tourism for business and trade,” Perrottet said.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the November 1 date was chosen as it gave airlines two weeks to put on extra flights to NSW.
Airlines May Not Be Fully Running For Months
The new rules will come as a bit of a shock to airlines, who have previously been voicing their frustrations over the lack of clarity about the country opening up.
International airlines have warned that expecting international travel to return to normal by Christmas is “naive” as airlines will not have the time to reopen flight routes and re-hire laid-off staff.
The Australian airline has previously said that it is confident Aussies will be able to travel by Christmas, as has Tourism Minister Dan Tehan.
It remains to be seen just how the new measures will play out in the airline industry and just how quickly airlines will be able to get up and running again before international travel can return to normal.