Fully vaccinated Australians will be able to enter New South Wales without the need to quarantine in a hotel, as the government accelerates the wind back of pandemic restrictions.
State Premier Dominic Perrottet made the announcement on Friday and said fully-jabbed travellers who tested negative for COVID-19 before flying to Sydney would not have to quarantine.
This is the second major relaxation of New South Wales’ pandemic restrictions after a 107-day lockdown ended in Sydney this week.
“We can’t live here in a hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up and this decision today is a big one, but it is the right one to get New South Wales connected globally,” Mr Perrottet said.
“It’s going to be great for our tourism industry, it’s going to be great for tourist operators.”
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The change comes into force from 1 November and only impacts Australian citizens, residents and their families. This means tourists are still unable to visit Australia without having to quarantine.
New South Wales will be the first state to open as it will be the first where 80% of over 16s are fully vaccinated.
Two weeks ago, the federal government announced that vaccinated Australians could travel abroad from November for the first time since March 2020.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has yet to say when tourists will be welcomed back to Australia but has ruled it out this year.
Permanent residents and citizens will be given priority, followed by skilled migrants and international students, Mr Morrison said.
It is not yet clear whether Australians will be able to avoid hotel quarantine in other states by landing in Sydney and catching domestic flights across state lines.
Victoria, which neighbours New South Wales, is now the COVID-19 hotspot in Australia, but the state’s health minister is keen to change quarantine rules.
“We’ll have a good look at it. I’m sure other states will be facing exactly the same issue, but what New South Wales do is a matter for New South Wales,” Martin Foley said.
Health professionals have accused Mr Perrottet of putting economic priorities ahead of health since he replaced his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian last week.
But the Australian Tourism Export Council, which represents the nation’s tourism export sector, welcomed the end of hotel quarantine.
“Australia’s tourism industry has borne the brunt of international border closures with many businesses suffering with no income since March 2020,” the council’s managing director Peter Shelley said.
“This announcement not only gives tourism businesses their income back but also lets the world know they are welcome back in Australia.”
Australia’s capital Canberra came out of lockdown on Friday with authorities reporting more than 99% of the population aged 12 and older have at least one dose of the vaccine.
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