Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has brought forward the lifting of restrictions for outbound and inbound travellers to mid-November, with fully-vaccinated citizens able to quarantine at home for seven days.
The move will see only unvaccinated travellers having to spend 14 days in managed quarantine and the move is a huge boost for the nation’s struggling tourism industry.
“With first dose vaccination rates at over 78 per cent and double dose rates nationwide at 55 per cent and on track to reach 70 per cent in some jurisdictions over the next week, our government has been finalising plans so Australian families can be reunited, Australian workers can travel in and out of our country, and we can work towards welcoming tourists back to our shores,” the Prime Minister said.
“Within weeks, large parts of the country will be moving to Phase B and then to Phase C of the National Plan to safely reopen Australia and to stay safely open.
“Under Phase C, international travel is on track to reopen safely to fully vaccinated Australian travellers. Many countries around the world have now safely reopened to international travel and it will shortly be time for Australia to take the next step,” Morrison said.
The announcement comes ahead of the revealing of quarantine-free travel lanes, with the likes of New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Fiji on the Government’s pre-flagged lists.
“These changes mean there will be no travel restrictions if you are a vaccinated Australian entering or leaving our shores,” Morrison said.
“We will also work towards completely quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so.
“Testing is expected to continue to be a requirement of international travel, but subject to further medical advice, Rapid Antigen Tests may be used.”
Rapid antigen testing could see tests done at airports or at home prior to travel and will speed up the journey, as seen in the United States and United Kingdom.
New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia are expected to be the first three states that welcome back Australian travellers to quarantine at home, while Queensland and Western Australia are expected to be the last.
Qantas was quick to hop on to the announcement from Morrison, with the Flying Kangaroo’s Group CEO, Alan Joyce, pushing forward the re-launch of flights to Los Angeles and London from Sydney from November 14, a month ahead of the previous schedule.
“The early reopening of Australia’s international borders will mean so much to so many people and it’s made possible by the amazing ramp up of the vaccine rollout,” Joyce said.
Qantas’ flights to Los Angeles and London from Sydney will operate initially three times per week, ahead of flights being launched to other international destinations and from other Australian cities, such as Melbourne and Brisbane.
“We know Australians can’t wait to travel overseas and be reunited with their loved ones, and literally thousands are waiting to come back home, so this faster restart is fantastic news. It also means we can get more of our people back to work, sooner.
“We welcome the Federal Government’s decision and the work by the New South Wales Government to facilitate the home quarantine approach that makes this feasible. We look forward to other States and Territories getting on board.”
Joyce said when it comes to London, Qantas will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service until at least April 2022 due to the latest Western Australia border settings and assumptions.
If the Darwin plan falls through, Joyce said Qantas will instead fly Melbourne-Singapore-London until at least April 2022.
“At this stage, WA doesn’t intend to open to international travel until sometime next year, so we’ll unfortunately have to temporarily move our Perth-London service until at least April 2022,” he said.
“Instead of operating from Melbourne to Perth and then on to London as it usually does, this flight will operate from Melbourne to London via either Darwin or Singapore, depending on conversations we’re having with the NT in the coming weeks.
“We look forward to operating this flight via Perth again when circumstances allow and we’re in regular discussions with all the states and territories, and will continue to make adjustments, including increasing flying as soon as border settings allow.”