UPDATED 3 November 2020:
Slowly but surely Australia appears to be opening up, and could well be on track for having no internal border restrictions by Christmas. Since this article was last updated, there have been significant softening in the positions of the previously stern Queensland and, most surprisingly of all, WA. Today, most states and territories are now open to NSW, though Victoria remains 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 other restrictions apply, such as the need to wear face masks. 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 is now deemed free until Thursday, 11 September. Anyone who previously paid a charge from 7-12 August can apply to have their money refunded.
Since our last update, Queensland has announced it will open its borders to NSW but not Greater Sydney on 3 November. The rules mean that those from the capital could potentially travel to Queensland but must first spend 14 days outside Greater Sydney. Bizarrely, travellers can also fly from Sydney Airport but must not stop anywhere in the city en route. Later, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk vowed to keep her border shut to NSW until at least the start of December. The state is closed to Victoria, which is a designated COVID-19 hotspot area. Queensland residents can return but must quarantine at a “government arranged hotel” when they’re back.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has announced his state will drop its entry restrictions and replace them with what he’s termed a “controlled border”. From 14 November, people will be able to enter WA without quarantine from areas that have had no community transmission in 28 days, which currently includes Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, ACT and the Northern Territory. Those from states with a rolling average of less than five, which includes NSW and Victoria, will be asked to quarantine at a “suitable premise” for 14 days and take a COVID test on day 11.
Currently, 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. This is a significant relaxing of the previous advice, which advised against all travel to and from Greater Sydney.
The ACT’s main advice is now: “When deciding whether or not to travel, think about why you want to travel, whether your destination has had any COVID-19 cases, and what your personal circumstances are. We encourage you to be thoughtful, safe and consider the advice of other states and territories if you choose to travel outside the ACT.”
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.
Tasmania has revealed it’s hoping to open to NSW on 6 November, provided its COVID-19 case numbers remain low. The state also dropped restrictions to those travelling from South Australia, ACT and Queensland on 26 October.
Tasmanian residents returning home from ‘medium-risk’ NSW right now though must now self-quarantine for 14 days. Those who have been in Victoria or other designated ‘high-risk’ hotspots must quarantine at a government facility. Anyone entering the state must now gain pre-approval.
Tasmania is now otherwise open.
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.