Published on : Monday, October 18, 2021
Sydney has decided to allow fully vaccinated Australians to arrive in the city from overseas without the need to quarantine starting November 1. New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet mentioned that quarantine-free travel was also available for all vaccinated international travelers when he said that Sydney and New South Wales is opening to the world.
But he was overruled by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who later said the easing of entry restrictions at the border is meant only for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.People who fall under those categories would be allowed to leave and return to Sydney without needing to quarantine.
He clarified that the Commonwealth Government has made no decisions to allow other visa holders except Australians to come into the country under the latest rule. The prime minister did not give any indication Friday as to when the border restrictions would be eased for other travelers, but said it would be done in a staged and careful way.
Australia closed its borders in March 2020 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. It only allowed only citizens and permanent residents to enter after going through two weeks of quarantine. But with fewer flights and weekly limits placed on how many international passengers are permitted to arrive at the major cities, thousands of Australians have been left stranded overseas.
Australia’s other major state, Victoria, has a similar reopening roadmap, which will see certain restrictions lifted when the vaccination rate hits a certain milestone. The state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton reportedly said that Melbourne could exit lockdown earlier than planned.
Meanwhile, rest of Australia has to wait before hitting the 80% vaccination threshold. Premier Perrottet also announced a number of local restrictions that would be eased for vaccinated individuals as the state is expected to achieve its target of fully inoculating 80% of its population by this weekend.
Starting Monday, face masks would no longer be required in office buildings. Households would be able to receive up to 20 visitors at any one time, and outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people would be allowed. Restrictions would remain in place for people who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated yet.
Travel between the Greater Sydney area and regional New South Wales will also resume starting in November. Australia has handled the coronavirus pandemic well due to strict social distancing rules, border restrictions, contact tracing and lockdowns. The country experienced a spike in Covid cases this year due to the delta variant, which forced several major cities into lockdowns.
In July, the Australian government introduced a transition plan that said it wants to fully vaccinate between 70% and 80% of the population before easing international border restrictions. Australia’s flag carrier Qantas said it will restart international flights from November 1, two weeks ahead of its schedule following the latest announcements. Qantas said it would operate multiple return flights a week to Sydney from London and Los Angeles.