Australians could soon be able to travel abroad for the first time since March with New Zealand preparing to open its borders within the next four weeks, sources say.
Millions of Australians are expected to pack their bags and go on holiday as the states with the strictest border closure, Western Australia and Queensland, begin to open up.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected to make an announcement on Australian travel when she swears in her new cabinet next week.
The move would mean Australians can travel abroad for the first time since March 20, when international borders were shut and exemptions only given out in extreme circumstances.
Australians could soon be able to travel abroad for the first time since March with New Zealand (pictured) preparing to open its borders within the next four weeks
The strenuous yet highly rewarding hike to Roy’s Peak in Wanaka, New Zealand, (pictured) could be enjoyed by Australians soon
Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham on Thursday said quarantine-free travel between the two countries would be recognition of how well both countries handled COVID-19.
While Europe and North America suffer through another horror wave of the virus with tens of thousands dead, Australia and New Zealand have escaped relatively unscathed.
Likewise, across much of the world international travel has relaxed since the pandemic’s first wave in March, with most nations allowing international travel, albeit with enforced quarantine when returning home.
‘I welcome the fact Prime Minister Ardern has made some positive comments about opening up in a reciprocal way with Australia, and I hope that we can see this facilitated by the year’s end,’ Senator Birmingham said.
The deputy head of the COVID co-ordination unit at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Jenny Da Rin, said almost 2,000 New Zealanders had entered Australia since the borders relaxed on October 16.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pictured) is expected to make an announcement on Australian travel when she swears in her new Cabinet next week
At present, New Zealanders can come to Australia without needing to quarantine thanks to the country’s lack of coronavirus cases, but must quarantine when going back.
The first flight arrived in Sydney on October 16, allowing families and friends to reunite after nearly seven months apart.
‘As of the 27th there have been 20 flights, 1,895 passengers over 11 days on green flights — where people are able to enter quarantine free,’ Miss Da Rin said.
‘We’ve been working on arrangements for two-way travel with New Zealand since June, working through all of the health preconditions, border arrangements, transit arrangements and all of the planning that needs to be done for two-way travel to commence.’
New South Wales and the Northern Territory were the only two regions in Australia that initially agreed to join the first trans-Tasman travelling bubble with New Zealand.
But since Kiwis were invited to start crossing the ditch, four other states have reported discovering returned overseas travellers trying to cross their borders without their knowledge.
New South Wales and the Northern Territory were the only two regions in Australia that initially agreed to join the first trans-Tasman travelling bubble with New Zealand (pictured)
South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and now Queensland all raised concerns after New Zealanders arrived at their borders expecting access into the states.
From October 20, South Australia joined the bubble ‘effective immediately’ after 12 people from New Zealand arrived in the state in the last three days alone.
The successful first phase of travel between New Zealand and Australia could open up links with Japan, Singapore and South Korea between months.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade the first week of one-way travel with NZ allowed it to ‘test’ safe international travel arrangements with other airports and airlines.
Daily Mail Australia has compiled a definitive guide to where you can travel within the next few weeks.
The welcome news about New Zealand comes as Western Australia, arguably the country’s strictest state, has agreed to bring down its hard border after seven months.
Premier Mark McGowan on Friday announced a plan, recommended by his health experts, to adopt a ‘controlled border regime’ on November 14.
Travellers from areas with no local coronavirus cases for 28 days – which currently include everywhere except NSW and Victoria – will be allowed to enter the state without quarantine.
They will have to fill out a G2G border pass and take a temperature check at Perth Airport or a land border checkpoint and may be asked to take a coronavirus test.
Western Australia, arguably the country’s strictest state, is finally bringing down its hard border after seven months (pictured, a tourist on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth)
Passengers from places that have a 14-day rolling average of less than five cases per day – which includes NSW and Victoria – will be allowed to enter but must quarantine at a ‘suitable premise’ for two weeks.
They must also take a test on day 11 of their quarantine.
Essential workers such as truck drivers will still be able to apply for an exemption from self quarantine.
The announcement comes after a poll by the Tourism Council of WA on Tuesday found 70 per cent of West Australians wanted the border to be relaxed.
Western Australia, which has not had a case of community transmission for six months and 19 days, has banned travellers from any state since April 11.
Mr McGowan said the ban, which separated families and stopped WA residents returning home, was the state’s ‘best defence’ against coronavirus.
‘We took the opportunity and did the unthinkable, we closed our border. We turned WA into an island within an island and it worked,’ he said.
‘I will have no hesitation to reintroduce the hard border if that’s what’s needed to protect the health of Western Australians.’
Tourists and split-apart families will finally be allowed in to Western Australia as the state brings down its hard border after seven months (pictured, Rottnest Island near Perth)
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has made the announcement Queensland will finally open its border to New South Wales on Tuesday.
But millions of residents in Greater Sydney will still be kept out.
Ms Palaszczuk, who faces an election on Saturday, previously said she hoped to ease her state’s hard border with NSW on Sunday after it was re-imposed in August to stop the spread of coronavirus.
She has pushed the opening back to Tuesday and banned residents from all 32 Greater Sydney local government areas on the advice of Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.
Dr Young said she gave that advice because Sydney suffered four cases of community transmission on Thursday, one of which could not be traced to a known contact.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the announcement Queensland (pictured) will finally open its border to New South Wales on Tuesday
New South Wales residents who have been outside Greater Sydney for 14 days will be allowed to enter Queensland from 1am on 3 November.
They will be allowed to fly from Sydney Airport but must not stop anywhere else in the city.
Victorians remain banned from Queensland and all other states except the Northern Territory where they must pay $2,500 for hotel quarantine.
Dr Young previously said the NSW border would not be opened until the state went 28 consecutive days without mystery cases.
‘Yesterday they had four new cases and one of those cases they could not link to any other known clusters,’ she said.
Ms Palaszczuk, who faces an election on Saturday, previously said she hoped to ease her state’s hard border with NSW on Sunday after it was re-imposed in August to stop the spread of coronavirus (pictured, Whitsundays)
‘Sydney is one city and people move around that city. That is why those 32 LGAs all need to be declared hot spots. Outside those 32 LGAs, there have not been any cases in the previous 28 days.’
Dr Young added: ‘They have cases there that they do not know about that are spreading in that community. It is all about unlinked cases.’
Tasmania has opened its borders to most states and territories, including South Australia, Western Australia, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory on October 26.
The island state will reopen to New South Wales on November 2 and an exemption is required if people are travelling through Victoria.
Tasmania will remain closed to Victoria until at least December 1, Premier Peter Gutwein said.
Tasmania (pictured) has opened its borders to most states and territories and tourists are expected to flock to the island state
All travellers from low-risk states and territories will have to undergo health screening, including temperature checks, when they arrive in Tasmania.
The state was the first jurisdiction to shut its borders and its last recorded COVID-19 case was more than two months ago.
South Australia’s borders are open to all states but an exemption is needed if people travel through Victoria.
All other states are considered ‘low community-transmission zones’ where travellers are allowed to enter SA given they have not been to Victoria within 14 days.
Travellers from low community-transmission zones do not need to be tested for COVID-19 or self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival into the state.
South Australia’s borders are open to all states but an exemption is needed if people travel through Victoria (pictured, Kangaroo Island)
The Northern Territory is now open to most of Australia, removing the coronavirus hot spot status from Greater Sydney in October.
From October 9 arrivals from Greater Sydney have not needed to undertake 14 days of supervised quarantine.
But all people travelling to the NT must complete the border entry form.
For those who arrive in the NT after travelling through a declared hot spot, such as Victoria, they must remain in mandatory quarantine for 14 day.
New South Wales
The only border restrictions currently in place in NSW apply to Victorians, with residents of Victoria or anyone who has been in the state requiring a special permit.
Many NSW residents will be able to travel to most states and territories, including Queensland from November 3, but Sydneysiders are still not permitted.
Australian Capital Territory
People who are not ACT residents cannot enter the territory from Victoria unless they hold an exemption. All other states can enter the territory.
All other states are considered ‘low community-transmission zones’ where travellers are allowed to enter SA given they have not been to Victoria within 14 days (pictured, Kangaroo Island)
AUSTRALIA’S BORDER RESTRICTIONS:
NEW SOUTH WALES: Exemption required if coming from Victoria. All other states allowed
VICTORIA: No restrictions, but not allowed into most states
QUEENSLAND: Exemption required if coming from Victoria or Greater Sydney. Open to regional NSW from November 3. All other states allowed.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Exemption required if coming from Victoria. Open to all other states
TASMANIA: Will open to NSW on November 2. Exemption required if coming from Victoria. Other states are allowed.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA: From November 14 everyone allowed but residents from NSW and Victoria must self-quarantine
ACT: Exemption required if coming from Victoria. All others are allowed.
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Victorians must quarantine at their own expense. All others are allowed.
AUSTRALIA: Only people who have been in New Zealand for 14 days can enter without hotel quarantine. Australians and permanent residents must quarantine in hotels. Other foreign nationals are only permitted in exceptional circumstances.