Scott Morrison welcomes NSW’s move to scrap quarantine for international arrivals from November 1

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has welcomed NSW opening its borders to fully vaccinated international travellers — who will no longer need to quarantine in hotels, or at home — from next month.

Key points:

  • Unvaccinated travellers will still have to enter hotel quarantine but there will only be around 200 spots per week
  • NSW is the first state or territory to lift the requirement for quarantine
  • People from Sydney will not be able to travel to regional NSW until November 1

Earlier on Friday, in a major policy shift Premier Dominic Perrottet announced people from his state would “be travelling to Bali before Broome” when the reforms come into effect on November 1.

People wanting to arrive in Sydney from overseas will need to show proof they’ve received a TGA-approved vaccine, and undertake a PCR test for COVID-19 before they board their flight.

Mr Morrison said the state’s opening would allow more people to return home and leave the country.

“It enables us to be in a position to lift caps for returning Australian citizens, residents and their families from the 1st of November into NSW,” Mr Morrison said.

“What this also means is we will be allowing Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families, to leave Australia from wherever they live in Australia.”

However, the caps on arrivals in place in other states will remain.

Mr Morrison said the changes were “hard fought for and hard won” and were made possible because of NSW’s high vaccination rates.

“This is a further sign of the national plan coming into effect and allowing Australians to start reclaiming so many of the things that have been taken from them throughout this pandemic,” he said.

As of Thursday, 66.3 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccination. 

The Prime Minister also announced the government had agreed to expand the definition of who was considered “immediate family” to also include parents.

It will mean that parents of Australian residents and citizens who are not Australians themselves will be allowed into the country and, if they are fully vaccinated, will not have to quarantine if they fly into Sydney.

“I know that will be very welcome news to Australians right across the country who are hoping to be reunited with their family members, their parents who are overseas,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Perrottet said his government would continue to work with the Commonwealth to ensure protections were in place to keep people safe as Sydney and NSW open up to the world.

Since March 2020 all states and territories have required all overseas passengers to quarantine in hotels, at their own expense, for 14 days.

Last month, then-premier Gladys Berejiklian announced a trial of home quarantine for eligible international arrivals but her successor, Mr Perrottet, has now pressed fast-forward on this transition.

NSW is the only state to announce quarantine-free international travel. All interstate borders to NSW remain closed.

“We can’t live here in hermit kingdom. So many businesses [here] rely on tourism for business and trade,” Mr Perrottet said.

Anyone who is not fully vaccinated will still be required to enter hotel quarantine but there will only be 210 spots available per week.

Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the November 1 date was chosen as it gave airlines two weeks to put on extra flights to NSW.

Initially, only Australian citizens, residents and their families will be able to take advantage of quarantine-free travel to NSW.

The announcement comes as the state recorded 399 locally acquired COVID-19 cases and four deaths in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday.

There were 85,000 tests undertaken in the reporting period.

A fully vaccinated man in his 70s died at Campbelltown Hospital, where he acquired his infection.

This is the sixth death linked to an outbreak at the hospital. The man had underlying health conditions.

A woman in her 80s who acquired her infection at Allity Beechwood Aged Care in Sydney’s west has become the eighth death linked to an outbreak at this facility.

She had received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine and had underlying health conditions.

An unvaccinated man in his 50s died at St Vincent’s Hospital and a woman in her 80s who had received one dose of the vaccine died at Liverpool Hospital.

There are now 677 COVID patients in hospitals across the state, with 145 people in intensive care.

Despite NSW Health pandemic modelling suggesting October would be the worst month for hospitalisations and intensive care admissions, hospital admissions have trended downwards since October 1, falling from 1,055 to 677.

The number of people in intensive care has also fallen, dropping from 210 at the beginning of the month to 145 on Friday.

​However, Mr Perrottet warned on Monday — which he dubbed “Freedom Day” — that the expected surge of cases from loosening restrictions may not appear for up to two weeks.

The Premier said NSW was expected to reach another vaccine target this weekend, with 80 per cent of people aged 16 and over fully inoculated.

That means further restrictions will ease for people who’ve had both jabs from Monday, October 18.

These include more visitors in homes, larger outdoor gatherings, standing in pubs and the end of caps on wedding and funerals.

Regional travel for Greater Sydney residents had also been promised at 80 per cent but the government on Friday pushed that back again to November 1.

Mayors from the regions say they are worried about potential community transmission due to unequal vaccination rates outside metro areas.

Only 36 per cent of NSW regional LGAs have 80 per cent double-vaccination coverage, Deputy Premier Paul Toole said.

In the Byron Bay Local Government Area (LGA), only 47.1 per cent of those eligible to get a vaccine have had two doses.

The Hunter region’s Cessnock LGA, and the Clarence Valley LGA in the state’s north, also have low vaccination rates, at 58.4 per cent and 56.6 per cent respectively.

Mr Toole said he realised the delay was “frustrating” for those who had planned trips or reunions with family outside Greater Sydney.

“It is important we don’t open up businesses and start to see them having case numbers escalate, putting those communities and businesses in jeopardy.”

Mr Toole said the new November 1 re-opening was a “hard, fast date” which would not be pushed back any further.

Earlier in the Delta outbreak vaccine doses were diverted from the regions to areas of Sydney that were seeing the highest COVID-19 case numbers but on Thursday Mr Perrottet said vaccination supply was no longer an issue for the regions.

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