Did Dom blindside ScoMo? Confusion reigns as NSW Premier opens his state to the whole world on November 1 but PM who actually controls the international border is silent
NSW’s major announcement it would open up to the whole world from November 1 after 19 months of Covid-19 border closures has sparked mass confusion.
Premier Dominic Perrottet announced that arrival caps as well any type of quarantine for vaccinated Australians and foreigners flying into Sydney would be scrapped in two weeks.
But the Federal Government is in charge of the international border and there has been no word yet from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
There have been suggestions that Mr Morrison thought NSW’s announcement would only relate to Australian citizens and has been blindsided by the news.
NSW’s major announcement it would open up to the whole world from November 1 has sparked mass confusion
Australia’s international border has been closed since March 2020 to reduce the spread of coronavirus – and no date has been set for a re-opening.
The national re-opening plan agreed by all states and territories in August states that once 80 per cent of over 16s are vaccinated then there will be a ‘gradual opening of inward and outward travel with safe countries’.
But NSW said it would welcome people from any country around the world as long as they are vaccinated from November 1.
NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the state would not discriminate based on nationality.
But he flagged the Federal Government will let people from some countries in before others because it will be quicker to set up systems to test the vaccination status of arrivals from certain countries.
‘There is no doubt that the Commonwealth will be able to do that with some countries faster than others,’ he said.
‘They will also be able to do that in conjunction with many airlines faster than others so there will be some incremental staging that has brought about by the ability for the Commonwealth to verify vaccination status but we are not delineating between countries.
NSW will not enforce any quarantine at all on vaccinated arrivals from November 1. Pictured: Sydney Airport in December
‘There is no delineation between Australian citizens and other citizens of countries around the world.
‘The focal point here is a delineation between vaccination status so vaccinated and unvaccinated.
‘We will require the Commonwealth to ensure that a person is fully vaccinated,’ he said.
The announcement left residents confused over the border rules.
‘Australian borders at this stage are closed to international travel with only a few exemptions and has been since March 2020. Only the Fed Gov can open them not a state,’ one NSW resident wrote on Twitter.
But others said Mr Perrottet was not opening the border but only changing health rules.
‘I read it as ending enforcing quarantine requirements for the vaccinated, not opening the borders,’ one wrote.
Mr Perrottet said he had spoken to the Prime Minister about the changes.
‘I’ve had numerous discussions with the prime minister over the course of this period about dispensing with hotel quarantine – they support this policy,’ he told reporters in Sydney.
‘They will need to implement it from a border perspective and we want tourists back into the state as quickly as possible.’
NSW said it would welcome people from any country around the world as long as they are vaccinated from November 1. Pictured: Sydney passengers before lockdown
The Premier said he could not control other states’ quarantine requirements but urged overseas travellers to spend time in Sydney if they needed to.
‘If you’re a returning Australian and you want to come here, stay in New South Wales and stay in Sydney,’ he said.
‘Have a great time here before you go home and spend up big.’
Overseas travel in and out of Sydney is likely to be allowed before some interstate and regional trips across Australia.
The Morrison government has urged states to drop hard borders when 80 per cent vaccination rates are reached.
But some jurisdictions are not expected to reach that target until December at the earliest.
The WA government has signalled it won’t open to states with coronavirus until next year.
NSW recorded 399 new local coronavirus infections on Friday, while case numbers in Victoria continue to soar with 2179 registered.
There were six deaths in Victoria and four in NSW.
Australia has fully vaccinated 65.4 per cent of its eligible population aged 16 and over, while more than 83.6 per cent have received their first dose.
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