“We are opening Sydney and New South Wales to the world,” NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said.
Travellers from anywhere in the world who have been fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration-approved vaccine will be allowed to fly into New South Wales without having to quarantine from 1 November, marking a major milestone for Australia.
In addition, the state government has deferred the decision to permit regional travel for those in Sydney due to lower rates of vaccination in local government areas (LGAs) outside of the state’s capital, also until 1 November.
The major announcements come ahead of the state reaching the 80 per cent fully vaccinated milestone, expected to occur over the weekend. As such, NSW will move to the next stage in its COVID-19 roadmap on Monday, allowing even more freedoms for those in the state.
NSW will work with the Commonwealth Government in changing its international border arrangements, but for tourists wanting to visit the state they can do so from 1 November without quarantining as long as they are fully vaccinated and receive a negative PCR test before boarding the flight.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet labelled the reopening of the state to the world as “the most significant announcement”.
“We want people back,” Perrottet said.
‘We’re leading the nation out of this pandemic. Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and New South Wales to the world.”
This marks a major departure from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s plan, agreed to by National Cabinet, that international arrivals would undergo home quarantine once states cross the 80 per cent fully vaccinated threshold.
International arrivals that have not be fully vaccinated will still be required to complete 14 days of hotel quarantine, and NSW is going to cap unvaccinated arrivals at 210 people per week.
In response to the announcement Qantas (ASX: QAN) says it will bring forward the restart of its international flights by two weeks to 1 November.
The airline will operate up to five return flights per week from Sydney to London, and up to four from Sydney to Los Angeles.
The announcement has been welcomed by general manager of Flight Centre's (ASX: FLT) corporate travel arm FCM, Melissa Elf, saying the change would "mean the world to businesses".
“Having to quarantine for any period of time when travelling from overseas for business has been a big obstacle for companies wanting to do deals with Australia and I commend NSW for taking the lead on opening us to the world – Australia is open for business once again,” Elf said.
“Intrastate travel has been incredibly strong for businesses throughout the pandemic, especially in Queensland and Western Australia, but this announcement will give global business the confidence to fly into Sydney without the hindrance of any form of quarantine. "
The Australian Tourism Export Council was similarly jubilant, labelling the move as "the key the industry has been desperately waiting for".
"Australia's tourism industry has borne the brunt of international border closures with many businesses suffering with no income since March 2020,” ATEC 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.
“While New South Wales tourism businesses will be ecstatic to see borders reopen, tourism businesses in other states will continue to suffer from both domestic and international travel restrictions which are stifling their income and threatening their future."
On 1 November, travel between Greater Sydney and regional NSW will also be permitted to allow those in the regions more time to receive their second vaccine.
To support regional businesses likely to be impacted by this change the NSW government will defer the second taper of the JobSaver program until October 31. Eligible regional businesses will receive 30 per cent of weekly payroll, before tapering payments to the scheduled 15 per cent from 1 November.
“We have reached this vaccination milestone quicker than anyone thought we could, and that is a testament to the hard work of people across the State turning out to get vaccinated," Perrottet said.
“Welcoming back fully vaccinated travellers will not only mean families and friends can be home in time for Christmas, it will also give our economy a major boost.”
In addition, on 1 November, hospitality venues and restaurants will receive further reprieve, with the state government to remove a cap of 20 people per booking.
This comes on top of significant easing of restrictions coming into effect from Monday after the state crosses the 80 per cent fully vaccinated threshold, permitting 20 people at home gatherings, 50 outside, standing up at pubs, and no limits on those allowed at weddings and funerals.
NSW today recorded 399 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and four deaths from the virus.
Updated at 10.30am AEDT on 15 October 2021.
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