Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that foreign tourists will not yet be granted permission to travel to Australia on 1 November, despite NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet seemingly suggesting they could.
However, in a significant concession, the federal government will allow the parents of Australian citizens and residents to join their families here.
It follows a dramatic day where Premier Perrottet surprisingly announced fully-vaccinated international arrivals flying into his state would no longer be required to complete any form of hotel or home quarantine, and flight caps will no longer be applied to vaccinated arrivals.
The confusion also came because the federal government has responsibility for border policy, but states can technically decide quarantine arrangements. Many media outlets suggested NSW tried to force the PM’s hand, but were subsequently overruled.
Notably, in NSW’s announcement, the government also appeared to slightly deviate from the national reopening plan, announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month, which specified that fully-vaccinated residents and citizens would enter seven-day home quarantine upon arrival in Australia.
Instead, NSW has offered no quarantine requirements for double-jabbed travellers, and even alluded that fully-vaccinated tourists might be free to enter the state without quarantine.
While Prime Minister Morrison welcomed the announcement from the NSW government, he reiterated that it is the Federal government’s jurisdiction to reopen international borders and stated that tourists would not yet be welcome.
“I want to stress for the other states and territories that … this is about Australian residents and citizens first,” said Morrison.
“The Commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders – skilled visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors – to come into Australia under these arrangements.”
It echoes previous statement from the Prime Minister, that suggested that foreign tourists will be the last cohort welcomed back to Australia, after citizens, skilled migrants, and international students.
The Prime Minister did however note that the government’s definition of “immediate family” will be extended to include the parents of Australian citizens and residents, allowing them to travel to and from Australia freely, and reunite families once borders open to residents.
Previously, parents of adult children who lived in Australia were not considered “immediate family” and therefore ineligible to come to Australia until the nation’s international border reopened to tourists.
The Prime Minister specified that come 1 November, “Those family members will be able to come into Sydney, if they are vaccinated, and not have to quarantine.”
In light of the announcements, Qantas has officially announced it will bring forward its planned restart date for international flights to 1 November, following the NSW government’s decision to allow quarantine-free travel from this date to fully-vaccinated Australians.
The move will see the airline’s major international restart brought forward by two weeks, after Qantas previously announced it would begin international flights to 14 November.
From 1 November, Qantas will operate up to five return flights a week from Sydney to London, via Darwin, and up to four return flights a week from Sydney to Los Angeles with its Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Flights to London will operate via Darwin until at least April 2022.
These flights will be limited to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents in line with current Australian government requirements, Qantas said.
Flights to other destinations including Singapore, Fiji and Vancouver are still currently scheduled to commence from 18 December 2021.
However, in light of the shift to remove quarantine requirements for fully-vaccinated travellers arriving in NSW, the Qantas Group is looking at bringing forward some additional destinations from Sydney, if possible, the airline said.
Qantas also welcomed the decision by the NSW government to remove quarantine arrangements for fully-vaccinated arrivals.
“Removing quarantine for the fully vaccinated is a sensible approach and brings New South Wales into line with many other global cities,” Joyce said.
“I want to thank the Prime Minister and Premier Perrottet for the leadership they have shown in getting borders reopened again, which is only possible because so many Australians have rolled up their sleeves in record time.”