Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein has confirmed he’s now looking at bringing forward the state’s border opening from early December to 26 October.
The move, hinted at previously, would see the border restrictions initially relaxed in stages to those travelling from Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.
Premier Gutwein said he would give more concrete details in the week prior, and is also closely monitoring the improving situation in NSW.
Tasmania currently requires all residents entering the state to home quarantine for 14 days, and non-residents to undertake the same in a government facility.
“If at any time the situation changes in these jurisdictions and the advice is that the risk is increasing or too high, then we won’t hesitate to change this decision,” Premier Gutwein said.
“We’re simply not prepared to put Tasmanians at risk, meaning that border restrictions will remain in place for the time being with Victoria, and we’ll keep New South Wales under advisement.
“The date will give Tasmanians certainty as they plan for the end of the year but also provide a date for our airlines to work to.
“My understanding is there is real interest from the airlines, based on our engagement with them, in terms of direct flights to Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and to Sydney should we open to New South Wales.”
He also hinted that Victoria could follow shortly after because the situation there had improved “quicker than most people thought it would”.
“Victoria is a very important destination for Tasmania, both in terms of it being a major export partner and also in terms of travel — 60 per cent of our interstate travel in previous years has come through Victoria,” he said.
“I would hope that Victoria would be able to get on top of this to a point where it was safe enough to open up to … but if it’s not safe, we won’t be opening to it.”
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported that Link Airways would launch a new route between Canberra and Hobart on 3 December, but could potentially launch it earlier if border restrictions were relaxed in October.
The flights will depart Canberra at 9:30am and arrive into Hobart at 11:35am, while the return service will depart Hobart at 12:05pm and land in Canberra at 2:05pm.
The route, serviced by the airline’s Saab 340B Plus aircraft, will initially operate four times a week but there are plans to shift that up to 11 in 2021.