The countdown to the return of international travel has taken off with the rollout of Covid-19 international vaccine passports.
Australians desperate to head overseas will be able to apply for an international proof of vaccination from Tuesday as the reopening of NSW’s international borders from November 1 fast approaches.
The vaccine certificate will allow Australian passport holders and Australian visa holders who have their vaccinations recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register to depart Australia and travel around the globe.
‘The international proof of vaccination features a secure QR code to prove COVID-19 vaccination status to border authorities around the world and increases a person’s ability to travel safely and with confidence,’ government ministers said in a joint statement.
International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificates are being rolled out for the reopening of Australia’s internal borders from November 1
‘The launch of the international proof of vaccination is a key step towards safely reopening international borders and supporting Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery.’
The passport works in a similar fashion to existing vaccine certificate and will be available for download through the MyGov website.
The passport can be downloaded digitally or in printed form and is compatible with COVID-19 travel apps.
‘You may not have to use it — there may be many countries you’ll visit that have no requirement to demonstrate you’ve been vaccinated,’ employment minister Stuart Robert said.
‘But the last thing the government wants for Australians when they travel overseas is to be stuck overseas because they can’t prove they’ve been vaccinated.’
Applicants can get access free international certificate by using their Medicare account through myGov, or the Medicare Express app.
This vaccine certificate (pictured) is the passport to the return of international travel
Thousands of holiday-hungry Sydneysiders have raced to book flights after NSW announced it would reopen its international border on November 1 (pictured, a passenger at Sydney Airport)
Thousands of holiday-hungry Australians are racing to book an overseas holiday after NSW announced it would reopen its international border on November 1.
Vaccinated Australians and their immediate family can in a few weeks’ time travel overseas from any state, but only NSW will let them return without quarantining.
Singapore Airlines responded by opening 32,000 seats on flights heading overseas before Christmas.
The airline will operate 17 flights between Sydney and Changi Airport every week with an extra 5,000 tickets available per week.
Travellers will be asked to quarantine on their arrival in Singapore, but this requirement could be scrapped in just a few weeks time if Australia is included in a list of countries with a ‘vaccinated travel lane’.
Webjet chief executive David Galt said there was an ‘immediate increase’ in the number of flights booked after the NSW premier’s announcement.
Mr Galt said the preferred international destinations were London, Fiji, Auckland, and Dublin and domestically it was Byron Bay and Melbourne that led the pack.
He said a return flight from Sydney to London would set travellers back about $1,400, about $900 to Singapore, and less than $500 to Fiji.
Mr Galt predicted fare prices would drop in coming weeks as airlines increase their capacities.
Singapore Airlines has responded to the reopening of the border by giving 32,000 people the chance to book a flight before Christmas (pictured, stock image of Singapore)
WHAT AIRLINES ARE OFFERING TO FULLY VACCINATED TRAVELLERS:
November 1: Five weekly flights from Sydney to London and four from Sydney to Los Angeles
December 18: Flights to Singapore, Fiji and Vancouver
December 16: Flights from Sydney to Fiji
December 17: Flights from Melbourne to Fiji
December 18: Flights from Brisbane to Fiji
December 1: Daily flights from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to Fiji
AIR NEW ZEALAND
Limited flights between New Zealand and Australia are currently operating with travellers required to have quarantine accomodation booked to fly
The airline is currently operating one passenger flight a day to Sydney
November 1: 17 weekly flights between Sydney and Singapore will be eligible for passenger sales
January 4: Daily flights from Los Angeles to Sydney
January 6: Return leg from Sydney to Los Angeles
November 17: Daily flights between Sydney and Bangkok
Meanwhile, Australian flagship airline Qantas announced flights will recommence a fortnight early with five weekly flights between Sydney and London and four between Sydney and Los Angeles.
Travel-starved Australians will also be able to jet off to Fiji, Vancouver, and Singapore from December 18, however this date could also be brought forward.
Qantas boss Alan Joyce said removing quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated is a ‘sensible approach’ and brought NSW up to speed with other global cities.
‘Bringing forward the reopening of Australia to the world and removing quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering New South Wales is a massive step towards life as we knew it,’ Mr Joyce said.
Virgin Australia similarly heralded the announcement as ‘fantastic news for travellers, the aviation industry and businesses’ that rely on open borders.
In just a few weeks’ time, vaccinated Australians and their immediate family can travel overseas from any state, but only NSW will let them come back without any quarantine (pictured, a woman kayaking in Fiji)
The airline brought forward flights to Fiji a week earlier to December 18, with daily services flying out from Melbourne and Sydney and three a week from Brisbane.
‘We’re pleased to bring forward the resumption of our Fiji services to better align with the start of the summer holiday period, making it easier for travellers to get to their destination in advance of the festive season,’ Virgin said.
‘We know Australians are excited to finally be able to travel overseas again which is evident by the strong booking demand we’ve experienced for our Fiji flights since the federal government announced the road map to reopening Australia to the world earlier this month.’
Virgin flights to New Zealand and Bali will not restart until 2022.
Fully vaccinated Australians are not required to quarantine in Fiji or Thailand from November due to the country’s status as ‘low risk’.
Returning passengers will need to have a Covid test before flying and be able to prove they are fully vaccinated.
Overseas arrivals touching down in Sydney who are not fully vaccinated will be capped at 210 per week and will need to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.
On Friday the NSW Government announced the two-week hotel quarantine for international arrivals would be scrapped and vaccinated residents and foreigners will be allowed to freely enter the state.
Later that day, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was forced to clarify that Australia’s borders will not yet open to tourists.
‘All we are talking about now is Australian citizens, residents and their immediate families,’ he said.
‘We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that.’
NSW has reached its target of 80 per cent full vaccination for people aged over 16, with only 301 new cases recorded on Sunday.
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