Covid-19 Australia: Omicron variant throws Australia international and state borders into chaos


The emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant has thrown Australia’s international and state borders into chaos.

The country closed its borders to nine southern Africa nations on Saturday amid fears the Covid-19 strain would spread across the Atlantic Ocean.

Two travellers who touched down in Sydney on Saturday night from South Africa were infected with the new strain, with a third suspected case being tested.

States have taken extra precautions to protect their residents with travel restrictions tightened and quarantine rules reintroduced.

Western Australia and South Australia have tightened their borders while NSW and Victoria have brought in temporary self-isolation.

Australia’s national security committee will meet on Monday afternoon to look at whether the country can reopen to double-dosed visa holders, skilled workers and international students from Wednesday as scheduled.  

A national cabinet meeting made up of federal, state and territory leaders is also expected on either Monday or Tuesday to consider Australia’s response. 

They will discuss their next move which could possibly lead to more border closures and even tougher hotel quarantine rules. 

The uncertainty comes just a month away from Christmas and threatens to throw holiday plans into chaos for tens of thousands of families.

Daily Mail Australia has compiled a list of the current travel and quarantine restrictions that have been reintroduced in each state.

NSW  

The emergence of the Omicron variant has thrown Australia’s international and state borders into chaos

The country closed its borders to nine southern Africa nations on Saturday amid fears the Covid-19 strain would spread across the Atlantic Ocean

The country closed its borders to nine southern Africa nations on Saturday amid fears the Covid-19 strain would spread across the Atlantic Ocean

NSW has temporarily re-imposed a 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals. 

NSW Jobs Minister Stuart Ayres announced on Sunday the state government was prepared to clamp down on travellers arriving from overseas.

‘We will take the necessary measures, including restarting quarantine if required, to protect our community and our economy,’ he said. 

A government source said work was underway to restore hotel quarantine if required, but the preferred option will be home isolation unless the strain was deemed extremely severe.

Premier Dominic Perrottet has vowed the state will stay open and forge ahead with its Covid roadmap despite fears about the Omicron variant.

Mr Perrotet said Omicron could be contained and the state’s timeline of lifting restrictions at 95 per cent vaccination or on December 15 was on track.

He said ‘for the moment’ he intended to stick with the state’s plan as NSW could not be a ‘hermit kingdom on the other side of the world’. 

‘Ultimately, we not only need to learn to live alongside the virus, but live alongside the variants as well,’ he said.

‘This pandemic is not over. These variants will continue, cases will continue to rise and the best thing we can do to keep the community safe, keep your family safe is to go out and get vaccinated and get that booster shot when you can.’

Victoria

Victoria has also reintroduced the 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals

Victoria has also reintroduced the 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals

Prime minister Scott Morrison is set to hold an emergency national cabinet meeting and speak with state premiers on Monday or Tuesday

Prime minister Scott Morrison is set to hold an emergency national cabinet meeting and speak with state premiers on Monday or Tuesday 

Victoria has also reintroduced the 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals. 

All arrivals must have an international passenger travel permit and take a PCR test within 24 hours of arriving in the state.

They must take another test between the fifth or seventh day after arrival.

Unvaccinated travellers must spend 14 days in hotel quarantine. 

Government sources said the Victorian Government was considering extending quarantine and reintroducing mask mandates in some settings. 

New health orders could be announced as early as Monday, the sources said, and were likely to be also rolled out by state and territory leaders across the country.

Queensland

Doubt has been raised whether Queensland will push ahead with its plans to reopen its state borders when 80 per cent of its residents have been fully-vaccinated

Doubt has been raised whether Queensland will push ahead with its plans to reopen its state borders when 80 per cent of its residents have been fully-vaccinated

Doubt has been raised whether Queensland will push ahead with its plans to reopen its state borders when 80 per cent of its residents have been fully-vaccinated.

The Sunshine State was expected to hit the target between December 6 and 12 – just weeks before Christmas.

Queensland deputy chief health officer Peter Aitken said he could not guarantee the borders would be reopened without quarantine.

Travellers could be forced to isolate if they visit hotspots in NSW and Victoria. 

Deputy premier Steven Miles reassured that ‘nothing has changed at this moment’.

‘As they always do, the Health Officials are monitoring issues around the world and if that should affect things here,’ he said.

International arrivals are currently required to go into hotel quarantine while returned travellers from states with open borders must go into home quarantine.

Western Australia 

Premier Mark McGowan on Saturday evening shut his state's borders to South Australia in a draconian effort to lock out the mutant new strain, as it allows in visitors from NSW and Victoria

Premier Mark McGowan on Saturday evening shut his state’s borders to South Australia in a draconian effort to lock out the mutant new strain, as it allows in visitors from NSW and Victoria

Australia has closed its border to nine nations in southern Africa as the country attempts to stop the spread of the Omicron strain

Australia has closed its border to nine nations in southern Africa as the country attempts to stop the spread of the Omicron strain 

Premier Mark McGowan on Saturday evening shut his state’s borders to South Australia in a draconian effort to lock out the mutant new strain, as it allows in visitors from NSW and Victoria.

The ruling means only vaccinated South Australians can enter WA, where they must immediately go into quarantine for 14 days.

‘The new variant emerged in southern Africa and is now understood to have been detected in Europe, Asia and the Middle East,’ Mr McGowan said. 

‘With little known about the variant, it is important we act with an abundance of caution in dealing with potential spread into WA from overseas travellers arriving in other states.’ 

WA Health Minister Roger Cook was worried that overseas travellers could enter South Australia without quarantine if they came from Victoria, NSW or Canberra.

‘South Australia’s relaxed border policy has seen increased infections from other States, and while they have not yet had community transmission, there is an increased number of exposure sites,’ Mr Cook said.

Travellers from NSW are not permitted to enter WA without approval.

If approved to enter WA, visitors from NSW must immediately self-quarantine in a ‘suitable premises’ for 14 days.

South Australia 

All international travellers and people arriving in SA from high-risk locations in Australia will once again be required to quarantine for 14 days

All international travellers and people arriving in SA from high-risk locations in Australia will once again be required to quarantine for 14 days

South Australia also tightened its border rules following the emergence of the Omicron variant.

All international travellers and people arriving in SA from high-risk locations in Australia will once again be required to quarantine for 14 days.

Travellers from low-risk or moderate Local Government Areas will be required to get tested for Covid-19 three days before going to the state. 

It came less than a week after the state flung open its state borders last Tuesday for the first time in months.

More than 30,000 people have already applied to enter the state with travellers arriving from NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

The state is only accepting fully-vaccinated arrivals while the unvaccinated will need to apply for an exemption, with those applications to be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

ACT

All vaccinated international travellers who have arrived in the state in the last couple of days must quarantine until November 30

All vaccinated international travellers who have arrived in the state in the last couple of days must quarantine until November 30

All vaccinated international travellers who have arrived in the state in the last couple of days must quarantine until November 30.

Unvaccinated arrivals must undergo hotel quarantine for 14 days. 

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory is only accepting fully-vaccinated travellers, state residents or people who have a medical exemption into the state. 

International arrivals are still required to undergo 14 days of hotel quarantine.

Domestic travellers or international arrivals from a red zone can may apply to undergo seven days of home quarantine. 

All travellers must complete a Border Entry form before their arrival.

Tasmania

Travellers from low-risk areas in Australia are not required to quarantine. 

Arrivals from moderate-risk areas must quarantine at home for 14 days, while those from high-risk areas are not allowed into the state unless they are an essential worker.

International arrivals must be fully-vaccinated and will be required to quarantine for 14 days. 

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