UPDATED 18 September 2020:
Since this article’s last update, we’ve seen some significant loosening of restrictions from states, particularly from SA and Queensland. It comes after Qantas launched a petition calling on all states to open their borders, which has already amassed 40,000 signatures.
The move came alongside the airline sending targeted letters to MPs in states it said did not agree to a road map out of “hard border regimes” during a previous national cabinet meeting.
Here, Australian Aviation tries to explain the restrictions in every Australian state.
Please visit the official sites for more detailed information, the latest updates (particularly from so-called hotspots), and directions for any permits or exemptions you might have to apply for.
Despite Victoria technically being fully open, the state is now effectively closed off to the rest of Australia because of bans in every other state. Residents returning from other states don’t have to quarantine at home, but may be subject to other restrictions: Melbourne is in a ‘stage 4’ lockdown that involves a nightly curfew, while the rest of Victoria is in a slightly lighter ‘stage 3’ lockdown. Residents in regional areas can also fly recreationally.
Excluding Victoria, NSW is open to all states. Anyone who wants to enter NSW from Victoria, though, needs to apply for a permit. Residents of NSW can return but will be required to quarantine in a hotel. After a state government U-turn, this will be free until Thursday, 11 September. Anyone who previously paid a charge from 7-12 August can apply to have their money refunded.
The state is closed to all of Victoria and NSW, which are designated COVID-19 hostpot areas. Queensland residents from these areas can return but must quarantine at a “government arranged hotel” when they’re back. However, the state will open to the ACT on 25 September. Visitors must fly, rather than drive, across the border to avoid travelling through NSW, which it deems a hotspot.
WA has the strongest restrictions in Australia and is now closed to everyone, including, crucially, residents who wish to return home, unless they obtain an exemption. Those that do will need to home quarantine for 14 days. Those who have visited NSW and Victoria in the last fortnight will find it harder to obtain an exemption.
Anyone who is able to enter the state is asked to bring their own masks. WA residents returning from abroad are allowed to re-enter the state subject to conditions and having undertaken the usual hotel quarantine.
The ACT’s rules are complex. People who have been in Victoria during the past 14 days are banned from entering the ACT, except for ACT residents and those who have an exemption. Those who arrive must then quarantine at home if possible, or in a hotel if not.
The state government is now advising ACT residents not to travel to Victoria or Greater Sydney.
People who have, more generally, been in the Greater Sydney Area or selected hotspot areas of Queensland are advised not to visit or work in high-risk settings, including aged care facilities, hospitals and correctional facilities, for a period of 14 days after leaving these areas. However, there is no requirement for these people to quarantine.
The territory border is otherwise open.
The territory is now open to most of Australia, except designated hotspot areas, which includes much of Greater Sydney and Melbourne. Australians from these hotspots can enter, though must undertake quarantine at a designated facility that charges $2,500. NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner hinted that he could open the area to visitors to Sydney in October, but that’s conditional on case numbers remaining low.
The Tasmania border opening has been delayed yet again, with speculation it could remain shut until Christmas. Tasmanian residents returning home must now self-quarantine for 14 days. Non-Tasmanian residents can enter but must quarantine at government accommodation. Tasmanian residents who have been in Victoria or other designated hotspots must quarantine at a government facility. Anyone entering the state must now gain pre-approval.
Premier Peter Gutwein hinted he could bring forward the state’s opening to the end of October, however, this has yet to be confirmed.
Travellers from Victoria, including South Australian residents, are no longer able to return. Some essential travellers are exempt. Travellers from NSW, other than essential travellers, are required to self-quarantine for 14 days after entering SA and submit for a COVID-19 test twice. Residents and non-residents from NT, ACT, Queensland, Tasmania and WA can enter without restriction.
After a policy U-turn, the 40 kilometre travel buffer zone for cross border communities in Victoria and South Australia has been reinstated. People transiting to SA through Sydney or Canberra airports from Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland or Tasmania will no longer be required to undertake 14 days self-isolation.