While international travel remains off-limits, Australia’s success at controlling COVID-19 at home now allows for economic recovery via domestic travel.
“Hop on a plane, go interstate,” Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham told Nine News on December 5 in a push to revive the struggling industry.
“The borders are now open, the tourism operators have got generous terms and conditions in case anything happens to make sure you get your money back.
“So you can do it with confidence, head across the country and help support an industry that’s so crucial to our nation.”
Western Australia remains the only state with a question mark over its border, as Premier Mark McGowan has yet to decide whether he will reopen to NSW residents as scheduled.
WA remains on track to open up to Victoria from Tuesday, dropping the 14-day requirement for travel from that state.
But a decision on whether the NSW border will reopen from the same date won’t be made until Monday when further information is available on a Sydney quarantine hotel cleaner’s infection.
It comes despite genome sequencing revealing the woman contracted the virus at work, rather than in the community.
Travellers from NSW and Victoria have been blocked from entering WA for almost nine months unless they went into quarantine and, until recently, secured exemptions.
NSW had almost reached 30 days without a locally-transmitted case when the quarantine hotel cleaner’s case was confirmed, raising concerns she contracted it in the community.
But NSW Health on Saturday said the infection was likely linked to her workplace, with viral genome sequencing pointing to US origin.
Meanwhile, eyes will be on Victoria this week as the state kicks off its revamped hotel quarantine program.
Melbourne Airport has not received travellers from overseas since June, when coronavirus outbreaks were linked to breaches in the quarantine scheme.
Travellers will start arriving via five flights from Asia on Monday capped initially at 160 a day.
Premier Daniel Andrews is set to announce a loosening of mask rules and social gathering caps on Sunday as the state moves to a period long referred to as “COVID normal”.
Victoria has been free of locally transmitted coronavirus cases for more than a month and with no active cases, has officially eradicated the virus.
There were no locally acquired cases recorded across the nation on Saturday, while NSW, Queensland and WA each reported a few new overseas virus cases, all in hotel quarantine.
Andi Yu in Melbourne