Here’s Everything You Need To Know About International Travel Rules
Australia will lift its ban on international travel from next month - so here are the rules you need to know.
Dust off your passports that are probably being used as a coaster right now because Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally announced the roadmap to resuming international travel.
Australia first made the monumental decision to close its borders to all non-citizens and non-residents on 20 March 2020. Since then, it has been virtually impossible to enter or leave Australia without jumping through an extensive series of hoops.
Following a national Cabinet meeting on Friday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally given us a date for when we can expect international borders to reopen.
“It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” Morrison said in a press conference on Friday afternoon. “We’ve saved lives. We’ve saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country.”
The news comes after Tourism Minister Dan Tehan confirmed last week that international borders will be open for Australians by “Christmas at the latest.”
When Will International Travel Resume?
Australians who have received both doses of a TGA-approved COVID vaccine will be allowed to travel outside of Australia from November for states that have reached 80 percent double vaccination.
It doesn’t matter which of the TGA-approved vaccines you’ve got (see: AstraZeneca is fine). Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and the Janssen vaccine are already approved by the TGA in Australia, while Sinovac (China) and Covishield (India) will also be recognised.
Will I Have To Do Hotel Quarantine?
Good news for everyone who was worried about having to use two weeks of annual leave to sit cooped up in hotel quarantine post-trip: you won’t have to undergo hotel quarantine upon return. Instead, you will be required to quarantine at home (provided you can do so safely) for seven days.
“To maximise the number of Australians who can return, our government is also offering facilitated flights into any state or territory that agrees to commence seven day home quarantine trials for returning Australians,” Morrison said in a statement.
Sure, it’s not quite as nice as being able to hop off the plane and get straight back to normal life, but seven days at home is basically how long it’ll take you to shake off your jet lag anyway.
Interestingly, unvaccinated Australians will be able to travel overseas, but won’t have the home quarantine option. Instead, these people will be forced to undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense.
Where Can I Travel?
Contrary to speculation in recent months, we won’t have travel bubbles or red/yellow/green zone countries for travel. Australia is not imposing any restrictions on where you can travel, so provided the country you want to visit is open to Australians and you can find a flight that’ll get you there, it’s bon voyage for you, my friend.
“You can go where you want to go, subject to the normal [security] restrictions,” Morrison said.
At the time of publishing, 36 countries are technically open to Australians without COVID-19 restrictions. However, the big issue will be whether or not Australian airlines will resume flights to those countries immediately.
From December, Qantas will resume flights to countries it deems “COVID-safe”, which includes the UK, USA, Japan, Singapore, Canada and Fiji. Additionally, trans-Tasman flights to New Zealand will be back on the cards when our travel bubble resumes.
However, Morrison has also noted that the government will likely give further Smartraveller advice to warn against travelling to places with major COVID outbreaks, much like it has with other illnesses and dangerous situations in the past.
“If there are places that we don’t believe — based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer — that we should be giving that ‘do not travel’ advice in relation to travel for vaccinated Australians, then we will provide the advice that way,” Morrison said.
Are All States Opening For International Travel?
International travel will be open from a federal perspective from November, however, it is up to state leaders to decide when exactly they will be willing to take flights.
Due to high vaccination rates, New South Wales will be the first cab off the rank, with Sydney International Airport expected to be the first international airport to reopen for business as (relatively) usual.
So Does This Mean State Borders Are Open, Too?
To put it simply: no.
When asked if people will be able to travel to Queensland by Christmas today, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she doesn’t “have a crystal ball.”
“I would love people to be able to travel but we will do so when it is safe. If it is unsafe, it will not happen,” she said. “So we’ll do it when it is safe.”