UPDATED 12 October 2020:
Since this article’s last update, we’ve seen yet more loosening of the rules around Australia’s states and territories. The biggest change is Queensland opening to the ACT and SA allowing quarantine free travel to NSW. However, there have been more minor changes from other states in terms of the areas they designate as hotspots. Most states and territories are now open to NSW, while Victoria remains largely locked off to the rest of the country.
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’s lockdown has been relaxed but remains in place with only limited socialising allowed. 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 hotspot areas. Queensland residents from these areas can return but must quarantine at a “government arranged hotel” when they’re back. However, the state opened 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. In a recent update, those entering from Victoria, with an exemption, can now home quarantine rather than hotel quarantine due to declining case numbers.
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 and “covid-affected” areas of NSW. This is a significant relaxing of the previous advice, which advised against all travel to and from Greater Sydney.
People who have, more generally, been in selected hotspot areas 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 Melbourne but no longer Greater Sydney. 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.
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.
However, Premier Peter Gutwein has said the state is looking to significantly relax the rules from 26 October for “low-risk” states which are currently defined as “South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, the ACT and possibly NSW”.
Travellers from Victoria, including South Australian residents, are no longer able to return. Some essential travellers are exempt. Residents and non-residents from NT, ACT, Queensland, Tasmania and WA can enter without restriction, as well as NSW, after a recent relaxing of the rules.