In early October we learned that Australia plans to open its borders in November, as the country hits an 80% vaccination rate. This comes after the country’s borders have more or less been shut since March 2020.
However, “opening borders” doesn’t necessarily mean what you’d think it does. This just means that Australians will be allowed to leave the country, and can then return with a quarantine (including the potential for home quarantine).
Well, the execution of this is turning out kind of funny, with each state being able to make its own rules around quarantine.
New South Wales ready to fully reopen without quarantine
On Friday, Dominic Perrottet, the Premier of New South Wales, caught everyone off guard with an announcement surrounding travel:
- As of November 1, Perrottet wants to fully scrap the quarantine for travelers arriving in New South Wales, meaning that vaccinated travelers coming from abroad wouldn’t have to quarantine in a facility, or even at home
- Perrottet even wants to welcome foreign visitors, signaling that New South Wales is “open for business” and that the days of living in a “hermit kingdom” are “over”
Now, there’s only one slight problem with Perrottet’s proclamation — while the state government has the ability to dictate quarantine requirements (or lack thereof), it’s up to the federal government to decide who is and isn’t allowed to enter the country. So Perrottet has the power to scrap the quarantine for arriving travelers, but he doesn’t have the ability to open to foreigners, without the approval of the federal government.
The federal government isn’t happy
Apparently Prime Minister Scott Morrison was caught off guard and shocked by Perrottet’s announcement. Morrison also wants to reopen travel as of November, but only for Australians to be able to go abroad and return home with a quarantine, rather than to fully open to foreigners.
Here’s what Morrison had to say about Perrottet’s comments:
“We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that. It is for the Commonwealth and Federal Government to decide when the border opens and shut at an international level and we will do that. In the first instance it will be for Australian residents and their families. We will see how that goes. The Commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors travelling.”
This is going to get messy…
Who needs the drama of reality TV when you have Australia’s border reopening? What’s so tricky here is that each state in Australia can choose its own quarantine requirements, and can also choose whether to remain open to other states.
The Premiers of different states have vastly different takes on what a reopening should look like, with some wanting to fully reopen to all vaccinated people without quarantine, and some seemingly wanting to keep their states closed forever.
It sure seems to me like we’ll soon be at the point where it’s significantly easier to travel internationally than between states. You know the more conservative states are going to continue to keep their borders closed to New South Wales (with the high number of cases there), and I’m curious to see what eventually gives…
Australia plans to start allowing residents to travel again as of November 2021, as the country reaches an 80% vaccination rate. It’s up to individual states to decide on quarantine requirements, and it has been announced that the Premier of New South Wales wants to scrap it entirely. While he also wants to reopen to travelers from around the world, ultimately immigration policies are in the hands of the federal government, so that’s beyond his purview.
What do you make of New South Wales’ plan to scrap quarantine?
PS: Before anyone calls me out for putting “Sydney” in the headline rather than “New South Wales,” the reality is that many people outside of Australia don’t know the names of states in Australia, so I was trying to be practical. Yes, I recognize that Sydney as such doesn’t have its own rules.