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NSW and Victoria change entry requirements for overseas arrivals

written by Hannah Dowling | December 20, 2021
Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 A7-ANJ at Sydney Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Both NSW and Victoria have dropped their requirements for all international arrivals and aircrew to isolate for 72 hours after entering the state, however, both states have imposed new testing rules.

From Tuesday 21 December, all fully vaccinated international travellers and flight crew will be free to enter NSW and Victoria, however, will need to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test within 24 hours of arrival, and isolate until a negative result is received.

It comes after both NSW and Victoria introduced new rules that required all overseas arrivals to undergo a COVID test within 24 hours of arrival, and isolate for 72 hours regardless of the result, in light of Omicron variant fears.

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Arrivals into NSW will now be required to undergo a second PCR test on day six after their arrival into the state, while arrivals into Victoria must similarly undergo a second test, anytime between days five and seven.

The new rules are in addition to previous requirements for entry, which means all arrivals must be fully vaccinated, and have received a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of boarding their flight into Australia.

Any passengers aged over 18 and arriving at either state who are deemed not to be fully vaccinated must go directly into 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the removal of the isolation requirement would make the process easier for international travellers and help keep flight crew in the air.

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“We know it has been a challenging time for international travel with new rules and the emergence of the Omicron variant, but this announcement is about simplifying the process and making sure Australia’s two biggest cities have a consistent approach,” Perrottet said.

“This decision has been made with safety remaining the top priority, which is why all arrivals must return a negative PCR test before they can exit isolation and have an additional test following that.”

In NSW, penalties for travellers who breach isolation, testing and quarantine requirements have increased to up to $5,000, while companies are liable for up to $10,000 in fines.

Meanwhile, acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said the new entry rules would make it easier for international travellers arriving back in Victoria and NSW, while ensuring the community is protected as we learn to live with COVID-19 and new variants.

“With more than 92 per cent of Victorians 12 years and older double-vaccinated, Victorians have given themselves the strongest chance of living safely with coronavirus and enjoying more freedoms this festive season, while we continue to monitor the Omicron variant,” Merlino said.

The news comes just days after Australia’s international borders reopened to overseas students and visa-holders, after being delayed by two weeks due to Omicron variant fears.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the decision to reopen to students and migrants from overseas from 15 December had been rubber-stamped over the weekend after consultation with the Prime Minister, National Cabinet and chief medical officer.

It follows mixed reactions to the Omicron variant worldwide. Minister Hunt has said “the advice continues to be that all of our vaccines provide strong, clear protection against serious illness, hospitalisation and loss of life”, mirroring similar comments by the US’ pandemic adviser, Dr Anthony Fauci.

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