People gather for picnics at the Harbor Bridge in the Kirribilli suburb on September 19, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. Covid-19 restrictions have been eased for people in New South Wales who are fully vaccinated.
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Fully vaccinated Australians arriving in Sydney from overseas will no longer be quarantined from November 1st.
In a briefing, New South Wales Prime Minister Dominic Perrotte hinted that non-quarantine travel is also available to all vaccinated international travelers when he said, “We are opening Sydney and NSW to the world.”
But it was rejected by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who later said the easing of entry restrictions at the border was only for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family.
People falling under these categories will be allowed to leave Sydney and return to it without quarantine.
“This is especially true for Australian residents and citizens,” Morrison said at a briefing following Perrottet’s statement.
“The Commonwealth government has not made decisions to allow other visa holders … to enter Australia in accordance with these agreements. These are decisions of the Commonwealth government, as the prime minister and I know, ”he said.
The prime minister did not give any guidance on Friday as to when border restrictions for other travelers would be relaxed, but said it would be done in stages and with caution.
Australia closed its international borders in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, only citizens and permanent residents have been allowed entry, but they must go through a two-week quarantine.
However, with fewer flights available and weekly restrictions on the number of international passengers allowed to travel to major cities, thousands of Australians have remained overseas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a House poll on February 18, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.
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Australia’s other major state, Victoria, has a similar discovery roadmap that would lift certain restrictions when vaccination levels hit a certain milestone. State Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton reportedly told local media this week that Melbourne may exit quarantine earlier than planned…
The rest of Australia still has a long way to go before reaching the 80 percent vaccination threshold. Information compiled by the online publication Our World in Data showed that about 53% of all eligible people in Australia were fully vaccinated.
Perrottet also announced a number of local restrictions that will be relaxed for vaccinated individuals as the state is expected to meet its goal of fully vaccinating 80% of its population by this weekend.
From Monday, office buildings will no longer need masks. Households will be able to host up to 20 visitors at a time, and outdoor gatherings with up to 50 people will be allowed.
The restrictions will remain in place for people who are not vaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated.
Travel between the Greater Sydney area and regional New South Wales will resume from November, when the state government expects regional areas to meet their 80 percent vaccination target, Perrottet said.
A red flag flies over Sydney’s Harbor Bridge to commemorate Merchant Marine Day on September 3, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
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“We were only able to do this because of the significant effort that people across NSW have put in to get us to this point,” he added.
Australia has handled the coronavirus pandemic relatively better than most, thanks to strict social distancing regulations, border restrictions, contact tracing and blocking. The country survived A spike in Covid cases this year due to the delta variant, which has resulted in several major cities being locked down.
In July, the Australian government presented a transition plan however, they said they want to fully vaccinate 70% to 80% of the population before relaxing international border restrictions.
Australia’s flagship carrier Qantas said it will resume international flights from November 1, two weeks ahead of schedule after Friday’s announcements. Qantas said it will operate several return flights a week to Sydney from London and Los Angeles.