Tasmania has announced it plans to open its border to Victoria on 27 November.
Premier Peter Gutwein also said that from this Friday, 13 November, those travelling from the previously ‘high risk’ hotspot would be allowed to isolate at home, rather than a government-run hotel.
“I think it would be fair to say that in terms of the steps that have been taken in Victoria, and, without wanting to put the mocker on them, it has worked,” said Premier Gutwein.
Within hours of the news being announced, Virgin brought forward the reintroduction of four-times-weekly services between Melbourne-Hobart and Melbourne-Launceston.
The services will commence on 27 November and move to operate daily from 14 December.
The airline also said it would reintroduce twice weekly services between Brisbane-Launceston from 23 November and increase these up to daily services throughout the peak Christmas and summer holiday period.
Earlier this week, Australian Aviation reported how flights between Tasmania and New Zealand would restart in January for the first time since 1996.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deal on Saturday that will include 130 direct flights from Hobart each year, with three departing per week in warmer months, and two in winter.
It comes shortly after the government also announced plans to allow the state to introduce hotel quarantine and start accepting Australians stranded abroad.
“This has been an incredibly tough year for Australians, and particularly our tourism and hospitality sectors, but the deal will mean tourists from low-risk areas can come to sample Tasmania’s incredible experiences, sights and produce,” PM Morrison said.
The plan to restart travel between the two countries will reportedly cost the federal government $50 million, while state governments will contribute $10 million for structural upgrades. They will mark the first regular flights since 1996, when Air New Zealand pulled the route due to its viability.
Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism Jonathon Duniam said the flights would give Tasmania the chance to prove “one island is better than two”.
“This is the shot in the arm Tasmania’s tourism operators desperately need as they start rebuilding an industry that is stronger than it ever was before,” he said.
Before coronavirus hit, documents released to Hobart MPs pre-COVID predicted restarting the route could generate more than $100 million in tourism.
The news comes after the Prime Minister announced Hobart would provide an extra 450 spaces in a new hotel quarantine. Previously, the state wasn’t accepting international arrivals.
“We’re working every option to help as many Australians return home as quickly as possible,” the PM said.
The country is currently taken around 6,300 arrivals per week after lifting the cap from an initial 4,000.