Australia has removed its global “do not travel” advisory in preparation for its international borders to begin progressively reopening from Nov. 1, when fully vaccinated Australians will be allowed to fly overseas without needing an exemption.
But while residents in the states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria will find it less restrictive to return from overseas, Queenslanders may find the process more complicated.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that while Queenslanders can fly out, they “won’t be able to fly back into Queensland without doing two weeks’ quarantine.” He referred to the arrangement as “a bit of a reverse Hotel California.”
This is because, under Queensland’s new COVID-19 reopening plan, the state will only scrap quarantine for international arrivals when 90 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, which is expected in early 2022.
Domestic borders are due to be removed on Dec. 17, with Morrison telling reporters in Canberra on Thursday that the national vaccine rate was expected to pass 80 percent next week, coinciding with Australia’s international borders reopening.
“Australia is connecting together again, and we’ll continue to see that occurring in the months ahead,” Morrison told reporters.
“We’re beating COVID and taking our lives back, and we’re doing this as we see the vaccination levels in the country rise.”
In the meantime, Queenslanders who return from overseas into either NSW or Victoria, where quarantine will have already been scrapped, will still need to quarantine for 14 days and meet eligibility requirements to enter Queensland.
But Australia’s federal tourism minister wants Queensland to consider pulling down international borders at 80 percent vaccination coverage, in line with other states.
Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan told the Courier Mail that he wants to see international visitors enjoying Queensland’s destination offerings by Dec. 17.
But Queensland is running behind other states in vaccination rates.
“They’ve got to get their vaccination rate up to 80 percent consistent with the national plan, and then my hope would be that the international border will be able to be open,” Tehan said.
“They’re a little bit behind, so far, New South Wales and Victoria in regards to that vaccination level.
“My hope would be that once they hit that 80 percent vaccination rate, they will start very much looking at the international border,” he said.
National carrier Qantas has brought forward international flights from Melbourne after the Victorian state government announced the removal of quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers returning from overseas starting from November.
The airline will commence flights from Melbourne to London on Nov. 6, operating two days per week at first, before ramping up to daily services from Dec. 18.
Qantas will also fly three times per week from Melbourne to Singapore from Nov. 22, before operating daily flights from Dec. 18.
Virgin Australia also announced on Monday cheap flights to Bali.
More than 76 percent of eligible Queenslanders have had one dose of a vaccine, and almost 62 percent are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19.