How millions in NSW could FINALLY be able to go on an international holiday in a matter of months – and you won’t be forced into hotel quarantine
- NSW could be the first Australian state to reopen its international borders
- State also considering home quarantine pilot to replace 14 day stint in hotel
- Tourism minister says current model not ‘fit for purpose’ in a vaccinated society
- NSW Premier hopes to welcome back more Aussies from overseas by Christmas
Millions in New South Wales could be among the first Australians to dust off their passports as plans for a home quarantine pilot for returning travellers takes off.
The state looks set to be the first to reopen its international borders to foreign and returning travellers as the campaign to get to 80 per cent of eligible Australians fully-vaccinated ramps up.
NSW is leading the way in the vaccine rollout with 78 per cent of over-16s having had their first Covid-19 jab while 45.6 per cent are fully-vaccinated.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is also considering a plan to allow international travellers, who must be fully-vaccinated and provide a negative Covid test on arrival, to come to Sydney and quarantine at home for less than the current period of 14 days.
NSW residents could be among the first Australians to pack their bags for a long overdue overseas holiday (pictured, travellers at Sydney domestic airport in June)
The transition to home quarantine is expected to begin once 70 per cent of NSW is fully vaccinated, due to be reached in mid-October.
NSW tourism minister Stuart Ayres is leading calls for ‘home-based’ and ‘shorter’ quarantine system.
He described the current 14-day hotel quarantine as not ‘fit for purpose’ in a vaccinated society.
‘It would be a travesty if fear prevented us from capturing one of the biggest tourism opportunities in our history,’ Mr Ayres told the Daily Telegraph.
Board of Airlines Representative of Australia executive director Barry Abrams believes many more Australians home could return home under a home quarantine system.
‘But it’s highly unlikely that it would get people travelling internationally at the sort of scale that we used to operate at, which would allow airlines to run commercially viable flights to and from Australia,’ he said.
A home quarantine pilot could soon replace the current hotel quarantine system for returning travellers (pictured a Sydney quarantine hotel)
Covid cases are still trending upwards in New South Wales, but rocketing vaccinations mean the state may be first to open up to international travel
Ms Berejiklian confirmed the state is ‘close’ to piloting home quarantining for fully-vaccinated residents returning from overseas.
‘We look forward to sharing those details soon,’ she said.
The Premier looks forward to welcoming home more Australians from overseas by Christmas.
‘That is my intention, not only for families to be reunited by increasing entrance through Sydney Airport but I would also hope by that stage that internal borders are gone in Australia,’ Ms Berejiklian said.
‘I would like to think that by Christmas, not only will we be welcoming home more Australians, thousands every week from overseas to reunite for Christmas, but also that we don’t have these internal state borders that we have now.’
The NSW Premier hopes Sydney International Airport (pictured on September 8) will be much busier by Christmas as more Australians are fully-vaccinated
Australian’s international borders are set to open once 80 per cent of eligible residents are fully-vaccinated (pictured, a tourist in Spain)
The news comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison requested all states and territories provide an update on their plans for home quarantine.
‘Successful pilots, like the one NSW is considering for some cohorts, will be a key contributor to our national movement towards increasing home quarantine,’ he said in a letter to Ms Berejiklian.
Aussies have been banned from leaving the country for holidays since March 2020 and anyone returning must pay up to $2,800 for two weeks of hotel quarantine.
Mr Morrison’s national reopening plan allows the international border to finally open for the double vaccinated once 80 per cent are fully jabbed.
The milestone is expected to be reached in mid-November.
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns ‘less likely but possible’; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival