NSW Scraps Quarantine for Vaccinated Arrivals
Vaccinated Australians will be allowed to fly to Sydney without quarantine from 1 November 2021. Photo: Dan Freeman on Unsplash.

New South Wales will reopen its border to vaccinated Australians returning from overseas from 1 November 2021, who will no longer have to quarantine on arrival – neither at a hotel, nor at home.

Fully vaccinated Australians will also be allowed to travel overseas from anywhere in Australia from 1 November, without having to apply for a travel restriction exemption from the Australian government.

From the beginning of next month, NSW will remove all international arrival caps for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members who are fully vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine recognised by the TGA. The federal government will also extend the definition of “immediate family members” to include the parents of Australians.

Eligible travellers will still have to get a negative COVID-19 test before flying to Australia. The NSW government has now confirmed that travellers will also be required to get a COVID-19 test after arrival in Sydney.

On 1 November, anyone in hotel quarantine in NSW who no longer needs to be there will be released.

Returning Australians who are not vaccinated with a TGA-recognised vaccine, excluding children or those with a legitimate medical exemption, will still be required to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine on arrival. The cap on unvaccinated travellers arriving in NSW is also being reduced very significantly to just 210 people per week.

There are some concerns that this now effectively locks out people in countries who have so far only had access to vaccines that are not recognised by Australia’s TGA. Airlines are also not yet sure how this would work as airlines do not have access to travellers’ vaccination status when selling tickets.

Airlines respond with more seats to Sydney

Qantas, which will require all passengers on its international flights to be vaccinated, has already added more flights between Sydney-London and Sydney-Los Angeles starting from 1 November 2021.

Other airlines including Singapore Airlines, Emirates, United Airlines, Delta and Qatar Airways have also now opened up more seats for sale on their flights into Sydney from November, releasing thousands of extra tickets into the market. These are now being snapped up by relieved Australians who have been stuck overseas for months, and in some cases over a year due to the inbound arrival caps.

Singapore Airlines 777
Singapore Airlines added thousands of seats for sale on its flights to Sydney on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Singapore Airlines.

More international airlines are expected to put additional seats on sale to and from Sydney in the coming days. But airlines are not yet selling additional capacity into other Australian airports as there have not yet been any announcements about arrival caps being increased or removed into other airports.

Home quarantine won’t be implemented

The NSW government is currently conducting a trial of 7-day home quarantine for fully vaccinated returnees. This had been touted a fortnight ago by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a key requirement for returning international travellers in Australia’s next phase of reopening. But NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the trial had proven home quarantine was too difficult to implement at a large scale and was not worthwhile.

“What the trial has told us is the technology works for identifying the people that are in their home, following restrictions and quarantine requirements,” Ayres said.

“It also told us in the first two weeks unequivocally, without doubt, the resources required by the government to monitor that system does not make sense when you are operating within a 90 per cent-plus vaccinated community.”

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet made the surprise announcement on Friday morning, which seems to have caught other state & territory leaders off guard.

Currently, there are major restrictions on travel from NSW to most other states. But Victoria has announced it will remove quarantine requirements for vaccinated people coming into the state from NSW from 19 October.

It’s not yet clear whether other states will follow in allowing quarantine-free travel from overseas once they reach 80% double-dose vaccination coverage, although this is what they previously agreed to under National Cabinet’s four-phase reopening plan.

Despite earlier comments from Perrottet that anyone who is vaccinated would be allowed to enter NSW from 1 November, the Prime Minister said these changes would only apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members.

As the federal government controls international borders, this means skilled migrants, international students, tourists and others hoping to come to Australia will have to wait a bit longer yet.

Australian citizens and permanent residents have been banned from leaving the country without an exemption since 25 March 2020. Australia has been one of the only countries in the world to bans its own citizens from leaving due to COVID-19.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Predictions of when international flights may resume/bans lifted

 

To learn more about this announcement and what it means for travel into and out of Australia from November, tune in to Saturday’s AFF on AIR podcast featuring an interview with travel agent Alan Lam.

This article was updated on 17 October 2021.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]