Australia will reopen its international borders in November to allow vaccinated travelers into the country for the first time in 18 months.
Australia banned most foreign nationals in March of last year and required its citizens to seek official permission to leave the country. Now it is preparing to reopen to the world. Under a government plan, international passengers will be able to quarantine at home for seven days rather than the current 14-day mandatory period in hotel isolation.
There will be no travel restrictions for fully vaccinated Australians entering or leaving the country, although major airlines have warned they are not yet ready for a swift increase in flights. The government is also working toward quarantine-free travel with other countries, including New Zealand.
Passengers who are not vaccinated, or who have received a drug that is not recognized by Australian authorities, will be required to undergo 14 days in official quarantine.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday that Sydney, the New South Wales state capital, would most likely be the first city to allow international travelers back.
However, he warned that domestic travel could still be restricted.
“Now, Sydney is the biggest arrivals port for Australia,” he said. “Now, that is good news if you are anywhere around the world because that is where most of the flights go. Now, if you live in another state, it may well be that your state may not let you back into your state, and so you’ll need to remain in New South Wales until they let you do that.”
Western Australia and Queensland are threatening to keep their internal borders closed to other parts of the country with high delta variant infections.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was not told about the prime minister’s plan to resume international travel.
“I am not going to agree to anything when I haven’t seen any formal paperwork,” she said. “It would be irresponsible, and I think Queenslanders would expect me to see some paperwork to understand the issues before an announcement is made.”
Australia has recorded 105,000 coronavirus cases since the pandemic began. More than 1,200 people have died.
Millions of Australians, including residents in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, remain in lockdown.
The government plans to gradually ease restrictions when double-dose vaccination rates reach 70% and beyond. They are currently just over 55%.
Gladys Berejiklian, who has guided New South Wales through the pandemic, unexpectedly quit as leader after it was revealed she was being investigated by the state’s corruption watchdog.