Australia will reopen its international borders in November to allow vaccinated travelers into the country for the first time in 18 months.
Australia banned most foreign nationals in March last year and required its citizens to seek official permission to leave the country. Now it is preparing to reopen to the world. Under a government scheme, international travelers will be able to stay at home for seven days instead of the current mandatory 14-day period in hotel isolation.
There will be no travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Australians entering or leaving the country, although major airlines have warned they are not yet ready for a rapid increase in flights. The government is also working towards quarantine-free travel with other countries including New Zealand.
Travelers who have not been vaccinated, or who have received a drug that is not recognized by Australian authorities, must undergo 14 days in official quarantine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that Sydney, the capital of the state of New South Wales, would be the first city to allow international travelers to return.
However, he warned that domestic travel could still be restricted.
“Now, Sydney is the largest arrival port for Australia,” he said. “Now, that’s great news if you’re anywhere around the world because that’s where most flights go. Now, if you live in another state, your state may not take you back to your state.” Let it come, and so you have to stay in New South Wales until they let you do so.
Western Australia and Queensland are threatening to keep their internal borders closed in other parts of the country with high delta type infections.
Queensland Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk said she had not been informed of the prime minister’s plan to resume international travel.
“While I haven’t seen any formal paperwork, I’m not going to agree to anything,” she said. “It would be irresponsible, and I think Queenslanders would expect me to see some paperwork to understand the issues before making an announcement.”
Australia has recorded 105,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 1,200 people have died.
Millions of Australians are in lockdown, including residents of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra.
The government plans to gradually ease restrictions when double-dose vaccination rates reach 70% and above. They are currently just over 55%.
Gladys Berejiklian, who has guided New South Wales through the pandemic, unexpectedly stepped down as leader when it was revealed she was being investigated by the state’s corruption watchdog.