Australia opens up. Or does it?

By | Category: Travel destinations

It was only a week ago that I wrote that Australia would open up before Christmas.

Yesterday the news broke that Australia would be opening up for international travellers earlier.

The Sydney Opera House. NSW will be the first state to open up for international travel.

At least that was the way that the media trailled it across our TV screens and in our newspapers.

The truth isn’t quite as cut-and-dried.

For a start, states can open up to international travel once full vaccination reaches 80% which probably means that the state of NSW will be the first to open up as it has recorded that 65.2% of all adults have been fully vaccinated and that 87.7% have had the first jab. Based on that uptake, 80% should be achievable.

But not all states, it seems, will follow this line. The premier of Western Australia, Mark McGowan, said – according to an ABC report – that a “time and a date would be set once the state reached a vaccination rate between 80 and 90 per cent.”

It means you could have to search for the regulations in the state you want to visit and, if visiting two or more states, check you can travel from one to another.

So an opening up in November seems feasible and Qantas – the Australian carrier- has brought forward from December its decision to start a three times a week service between Sydney and London.

But Australians returning home and people who have NSW residency will still have to self-isolate at home for seven days instead of the now mandatory hotels stay for which people have to pay.

There are about 45,000 Australians abroad who have been unable to return to Australia since March 2020 and it is thought that they will be the first passengers.

What of non-residents and visitors?

At time of writing, there is no news of what requirements will be asked of international visitors to the country. As to whether there will be quarantine, you could surmise that if Australians rerturning home have to quarantine then others will have to as well but where? Can they stay with relations and friends? If that is the case will the combined households have to self-isolate for a period? What of visitors with no family connections with whom to stay?

What we do know is that returning Australians must have completed a full course of the vaccination apart from children under 12 (this age limit might vary from one state to another at least initially) or those with a medical condition.

There is no news either for returning Australians or others about whether people will have to have a negative PCR test or a lateral flow test or nothing at all.

On top of all this, the Australian government(s) need to decide on what to do with those who have completed their course of vaccinations over nine months or twelve months ago. Are they still counted as double vaccinated or must they have had a booster? And if not eligable for a booster due to age what requirements might be placed on them?

Given that the announcement is less than 24 hours old, people should be wary about booking just yet. (unless you can switch dates for flying with no penalty.)

The Australian and state governments have a lot of decsions still to make.

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