By Rob Harris and Katina Curtis Updated October 1, 2021 — 6.18pm first published at 9.20am Save Log in , register or subscribe to save articles for later.Normal text size Larger text size Very large text size For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.
Advertisement Australians will be able to holiday abroad within weeks and quarantine at home for just seven days without seeking a permit, following the federal government’s decision to scrap a contentious 18-month ban on overseas travel.
Qantas announced it has brought forward its resumption of international flights to November 14 after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday the trigger to restart international travel will be a national average vaccination rate of 80 per cent of over-16s.All passengers will be required to be fully vaccinated as well as return a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 72 hours of departure.
International borders are set to be reopened for Australians.Credit: James Brickwood
Individual states will also have to hit the 80 per cent threshold before flights can arrive in their airports freely.
Mr Morrison said it was “time to give Australians their lives back” and the reopening of international borders was a key part of the national plan, released at the end of July.
The nation’s borders were dramatically shut on March 20 last year to all non-citizens and non-residents, with Australian citizens and permanent residents needing to seek a government-issued exemption to travel.The ban was initially in place until December 17.
Loading The decision will help clear a backlog of more than 40,000 Australian citizens and residents who have been stuck overseas and unable to secure or afford commercial flights home.
The Prime Minister said with first dose vaccination rates at over 78 per cent and double dose rates nationwide at 55 per cent and on track to reach 70 per cent in some jurisdictions over the next week, Australian families would soon be reunited and Australians could work towards welcoming tourists and international students.
“We said to Australians: we get to 80 per cent, you can leave the country and you can come back again.If you’re overseas, you should be able to come back if you’re a fully vaccinated Australian resident or citizen,” Mr Morrison said.
Advertisement “We’ve saved lives.We’ve saved livelihoods.
But, we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country.”
Loading The national carrier will restart flights with three weekly return trips between Sydney and London and another three between Sydney and Los Angeles with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The company said the two destinations had been the most searched for in recent weeks.More flights would be added to meet demand.
Mr Morrison said the federal government would continue to run repatriation flights for vaccinated Australians, which will land in any state or territory that agrees to the seven-day home quarantine system.
The federal government will also work with all jurisdictions to increase and then remove the caps on international arrivals after it began issuing international COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
“We know it has been an extraordinarily difficult 18 months for Australians overseas trying to come home and for Australians with family and friends overseas,” he said.
Loading Anyone who is either unvaccinated or received a vaccine not recognised by Australian authorities will have to still spend two weeks in a managed quarantine facility.Citizens and residents who cannot be vaccinated because they are under 12 or have a medical condition will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.
Mr Morrison said the Therapeutic Goods Administration had advised both the CoronaVac (Sinovac) and Covishield (AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India) products should be recognised vaccines for travel purposes , along with the Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna and Janssen COVID-19 vaccines.This decision doesn’t mean Sinovac and Covishield have approval to be delivered within Australia.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the border proposal as a “fantastic announcement by the Prime Minister”.
He said NSW and Victoria would soon not only be open to each other and open internally, but again be open to the world.
Mr Andrews said the state would take part in a home quarantine system trial.
“We’d be up for that,” he said.“We’d have to work through the details but we’d be very keen to be part of that.”
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the cost of international border closures to the economy had been around $7.6 billion every month
She challenged state and territory leaders to release their domestic reopening plans and “stick to them”.
“It would be ludicrous to create a situation that sees people free to leave and enter Australia but not move between states,” she said.
Australians will have to download their international vaccination certificate from their MyGov accounts, a secure online portal that stores personal information.It will be different from the domestic vaccine certificate that is already available on MyGov.
Loading A new iPhone application allowing border officials to read QR code vaccination certificates appeared on the Apple store this week, giving Australian officials the ability to scan international vaccination certificates once they become available within days.
A Digital Passenger Declaration – which will apply to all travellers entering the country – is currently only in the testing phase after international IT firm Accenture was awarded the tender to roll out the technology.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the early reopening of Australia’s international borders would mean “so much to so many people” and was made possible by “the amazing ramp-up of the vaccine rollout”.
“We know Australians can’t wait to travel overseas and be reunited with their loved ones, and literally thousands are waiting to come back home, so this faster restart is fantastic news.It also means we can get more of our people back to work, sooner,” he said..