Australia is in talks to set up quarantine-free travel bubbles with the UK, US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Pacific islands such as Fiji for the fully vaccinated.
The Federal Government plans to open the international border for outbound travel once every state and territory has vaccinated 80 per cent of its residents, which is expected in early December.
The Covid-19 arrival caps for Australian citizens will also be removed and hotel quarantine will be scrapped in favour of home quarantine in states that sign up, with New South Wales and South Australia currently running trials.
Australian is in talks to set up quarantine-free travel bubbles with the UK, US, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Pacific islands such as Fiji for the fully vaccinated. Pictured: London’s Big Ben
Japan is one of the countries in discussions with Australia over a travel bubble. Pictured: Osaka
But there may be no quarantine at all for fully vaccinated people arriving from countries where a travel bubble has been agreed.
Such arrangements would mirror the New Zealand travel bubble that was in place between April and July before New South Wales suffered its Covid outbreak.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said discussions were ongoing with several countries with high vaccination rates to determine what kind of quarantine arrangements would be needed.
‘Obviously with New Zealand we were able to do that quarantine-free. It would be great if we could get that up and running again,’ he told Nine’s Today show on Thursday morning.
‘Then we’re in discussion with the Pacific islands, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the US, the UK on what those travel arrangements will look like.
‘Hopefully we’ll be able to have home quarantine, we’ll be able to limit the time of quarantine and, ultimately, quarantine-free travel. It could require some testing. All those discussions are in place,’ he said.
A travel bubble could be set up with Fiji (pictured) so Australians can finally go on holiday
Trade Minister Dan Tehan wants a travel bubble with the US. Pictured: The Grand Canyon
Asked if the quarantine requirements could differ from state to state, Mr Tehan said: ‘We’ll work that through with the states and territories. We have a very important trial taking place in South Australia at the moment on home quarantine.
‘NSW have indicated that they want to move to home quarantining as well. As we keep rolling out these trials, the hope is also we can look at, perhaps, seven days in home quarantine with testing either side because the more we can limit that time in quarantine, obviously the better, the better for bringing returning Australians home, the better for international students to be able to return.
‘So all that will be worked through with the states and territories.’
Mr Tehan said Tourism Australia was ‘sending those positive messages out there, that our borders are going to be open before Christmas and we want to make sure that we’re welcoming people.’
Australians have been banned from going on overseas holidays since March 2020 when the government shut the border to keep out Covid-19.
Australia is projected to hit the 80 per cent vaccination rate in mid November but vaccine laggards Queensland and Western Australia are not expected to reach the mark until December 7 and December 6.
Under the national plan, the international border won’t open until all states have hit the target.
On Friday NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced her state would start a four-week trial of seven-day home quarantine for returning Australians with the aim of stamping out hotel quarantine by the time the borders open late this year.
We can’t live in a hermit kingdom, we have to rejoin the world
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet
Qantas is preparing to restart international flights on December 18 for the fully vaccinated.
In an interview with Daily Mail Australia on Friday, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said NSW residents will be able to fly to London and New York before Perth or Brisbane because Western Australia and Queensland are still pursuing a Covid elimination strategy and keeping their borders closed.
Asked if that was an absurd situation, he said: ‘That’s just the reality.
‘We’re talking about returning international students, we’re talking about returning Australians. We’re opening up businesses and the next step is opening up borders,’ he said.
‘If we can lead the way on international travel that’s going to be a great thing for the state.
‘And hopefully that will then lead to other states following us. It might be ironic that you can get to Bali before you can get to Broome but that’s where we’re heading.’
The Treasurer said premiers in other states who are nervous about opening up will be eventually pushed into action by their voters who will want to travel once more.
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet with his budget papers
‘What I want to see in the other states is that as we move through this period and as we rejoin the world, that other states and the Australian people will say well ”we want to have that too” and that means living alongside the virus,’ he said.
‘There is no evidence of Covid going away and we can’t hide from it indefinitely.
‘We can’t live in a hermit kingdom, we have to rejoin the world.
‘I think it’s pretty clear that NSW and Victoria will be the two states that move together on achieving that,’ he added.
Mr Perrottet said international travel was crucial to Australia’s success, with tourism bringing in $42billion a year to the NSW economy.
‘Over time our role as a government is to lead our people into great opportunity and prosperity and it’s not just for us, it’s for our kids as well and that’s our focus and I think overtime that’s where Australians will want to be,’ he said.
Mr Perrottet said hotel quarantine will be replaced by home isolation this year and then removed altogether for the fully vaccinated next year.
‘My expectation is that we will get through this trial and if it’s successful we will shift from hotel quarantine to home quarantine and the next step after that is just logical,’ he said.
‘If somebody is fully vaccinated, coming from overseas, they shouldn’t be treated any differently from people who are vaccinated who are living here. As we rejoin the world, it will make no sense for people [to quarantine].
‘And Australians as well, if we’re going to be travelling overseas we don’t want to do seven days or 14 days quarantine either. That’s just not going to work.
‘Ultimately we’re going to end up in a situation where right across the world the majority of people have been vaccinated and we move on and enjoy the opportunities we had before this virus came to be.’
Australians will be allowed on overseas holidays even if some state borders are still closed when 80 per cent are vaccinated. Pictured: Sydney passengers before lockdown
What are the four phases of opening up?
A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)
Lockdowns less likely but possible; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)
Only ‘highly targeted’ lockdowns; lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival