UPDATED 21 December 2020:
It’s been six weeks since our last update to this article and, against most expectations, Australia was almost fully open before a COVID outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches on Thursday.
Here, we break down the latest rules. As ever, 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.
New rules will see a traffic light permit system introduced for anyone entering from NSW. Those from low-risk “green zones”, initially most of regional NSW, can enter freely; those from “orange zones” are encouraged to take a test on arrival; while those from “red zones” must undertake quarantine.
An update to the zones means that all of Greater Sydney is now a red zone, while the Northern Beaches is a “hot zone” meaning all travel is banned.
Non-Victorian residents who travelled from Greater Sydney face hotel quarantine from midnight Sunday (20 December). However, returning Victorians who cross the border can home quarantine if they come back before midnight Monday – a day later – but afterwards must quarantine in a hotel.
Otherwise, travellers from all states can now enter freely without the need for quarantine. After arrival though, everyone must observe new ‘COVIDSafe’ summer restrictions, which include carrying a face mask with you when you leave home, and wearing it while on public transport or in “large retail venues”, including shopping centres, supermarkets and department stores.
NSW is open to all states.
Queensland’s rules are almost identical to Victoria’s (above) but the key difference is the cut-off point was 1am (not midnight) on Monday (for non-residents) and 1am on Tuesday (not midnight) for residents to avoid hotel quarantine.
The two states also seemingly define Greater Sydney slightly differently, with Queensland considering the area all of Sydney, and south down to Wollongong, Wollondilly, the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and the Central Coast.
Otherwise, Queensland is now open to all states and New Zealand. The state reopened to Greater Sydney and Victoria on 1 December, and to South Australia on 12 December.
WA has reinstated its “hard border” with all of NSW, meaning everyone from that state will be turned away. This also applies to anyone who may have been in NSW since 11 December and hasn’t completed 14 days in a lower risk state or territory. WA had only opened to NSW and Victoria on 8 December.
Otherwise, the state is now open to the rest of Australia, except SA, where arrivals now have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Should SA remain COVID-free, restrictions could potentially be lifted on Christmas Day.
The ACT will now require all people entering the territory from Greater Sydney to quarantine at home for 14 days from Monday. Otherwise, the ACT border is now fully open to all other states and territories.
The NT is asking all those from Greater Sydney to hotel quarantine for 14 days, effective immediately. Otherwise, the territory is now open to all of Australia, though entrants must fill out a border entry form.
The state has declared the Greater Sydney area as a medium risk zone, meaning all entrants must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Those from the Northern Beaches are not permitted to enter the state at all.
Otherwise, Tasmania is now open to all other states, though all entrants must complete the Tas e-Travel form.
Anyone who has visited a designated hotspot location, detailed here, must self-isolate immediately for 14 days and take COVID testing. This now includes Greater Sydney, the Central Coast and Wollongong. Otherwise, SA is now open to all other states.
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