New South Wales to open to international travel

New South Wales will become the first state in the country to open its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from overseas from November 1 without the need for hotel quarantine.

The move comes with the state on the brink of hitting the 80% double dose vaccination rate, well ahead of the rest of Australia, prompting Premier Dominic Perrottet to bring forward the expected return date of overseas travel.

Perrottet said New South Wales would welcome all overseas arrivals, however Prime Minister Scott Morrison overruled this announcement saying the government would stick with plans to first open the border to citizens and permanent residents. Morrison stated, “The Commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders … to come into Australia under these arrangements”.

Major change to the definition of families

Morrison announced that the National Security Committee would looking at expanding the definition of immediate family to include the parents of Australian residents and citizens. Under the current definition, an immediate family member is classified as a spouse, de facto partner, a dependent child or a legal guardian.

This change could see thousands of families reunited for the Christmas holidays.

No quarantine for vaccinated travellers

Premier Dominic Perrottet says international travellers won’t have to isolate upon arrival in the state if they are fully vaccinated and test negative for the virus on departure and arrival.

Any fully vaccinated travellers in hotel quarantine as of November 1 will be able to leave. However, hotel quarantine will remain a requirement for unvaccinated overseas arrivals, with a cap of 210 available spots each week.  

Domestic travellers will not be required to be vaccinated or undergo testing to enter NSW.

Economic boost by recent announcements

Australia closed its borders in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing entry almost exclusively to citizens and permanent residents who underwent two weeks of hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Since this time Australians have been unable to travel internationally without a government waiver, and thousands of citizens and permanent residents in other countries have been left stranded overseas after a strict cap on arrivals was introduced to combat the spread of the virus. The flow on effect of this has been significant restraint on economic activity.

Many are now expected to return via Sydney, even though they may not be able to travel onto other states due to strict border closures for outbound New South Wales travellers being in place.

Qantas said it would bring forward the restart of international flights from Sydney to London and Los Angeles to November 1 and would consider bringing forward some other destinations that had been expected to start in December.

Other major airlines have continued to fly to Sydney throughout the pandemic but due to strict passenger caps, most of their revenue has been from cargo. The announcement should allow them to begin selling more seats on those flights and entice the airlines to add more services.

Source: Reuters & The Australian

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