The restart of international travel for Victoria and New South Wales (NSW) is now being used as an incentive to encourage vaccination rates in other jurisdictions that are falling behind around Australia.
Victoria, as of Friday, has joined New South Wales in allowing quarantine-free arrivals from overseas, with the federal government opening borders on Nov. 1.
The Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked Queensland and Western Australia—the two states that have avoided major lockdowns this year have yet to reach 60 percent double vaccination rates—to continue to boost their vaccination rates.
Morrison said hitting 70 and 80 percent in those states would be critical in moving to the next step.
“The most important thing to open up Queensland and Western Australia is to get those vaccination rates higher,” he told reporters at Sydney Airport on Friday, Oct. 22.
He also said that vaccination rates needed to be higher for the 8,000 Queenslanders who are waiting overseas to be flown back.
“You’ve all seen those reunification scenes as people have got back over the border into Victoria,” Morrison said.
“It was a real Love Actually moment watching that happen. It was tremendous,” the prime minister said.
The comments by Morrison come as Australian airline Qantas has announced it will also bring forward the return of its international fights and reinstate 11,000 employees that were stood down.
CEO of Qantas, Alan Joyce, announced on Friday that the company is due to open up to Singapore businesses from Sydney by the end of November. Services to Fiji are scheduled to begin by the start of December.
Services to Johannesburg, South Africa, will be open around early January and services to Phuket and Bangkok will be open from the middle of January.
Joyce also mentioned that there had been a large demand for international travel with a greater sale for international than domestic flights. The company saw flights being sold out in a few hours, and on Oct. 19, half-a-billion Qantas points were redeemed.
Meanwhile, federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has linked the return of peoples freedoms with economic recovery.
“Melbourne is finally free—morning margaritas all round,” he told Sky News on Oct. 22.
Nationally, almost 71 percent of Australians above 16 are fully vaccinated, and around 86 percent have received their first dose.