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Qantas has announced international flights will resume on November 14 after Scott Morrison gave the green light for Australia’s borders to finally open.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced Aussies can travel overseas once their states surpass 80 per cent double dose vaccination coverage – with NSW on track to be the first to reach that milestone next month.
The major airline had put flights to major overseas destinations on sale from December 18, but on Friday afternoon said it would bring that forward in light of the Prime Minister’s announcement.
Qantas will now start flying three weekly Sydney-London services and three weekly Sydney-Los Angeles return flights from November 14.
Vaccinated travellers will be able to quarantine at home for seven days while quarantine-free travel may also be set up for certain countries such as New Zealand.
‘It’s time to give Australians their lives back. We’ve saved lives. We’ve saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country,’ Mr Morrison said.
Australians will finally be able to travel overseas from next month with fully vaccinated residents allowed to quarantine at home for seven days, Scott Morrison announced on Friday
Australians looking for an overseas holiday will be able to access an internationally recognised proof of vaccination document in the coming weeks to prove their status.
Unvaccinated Australians will still have to complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine stint in hotels or designated facilities upon their return.
Aussies who cannot be vaccinated including those under 12 or with a medical condition will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.
Australians have been banned from leaving the country since March 18, 2020 under strict biosecurity laws to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic.
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. Pictured: London’s Big Ben
States and territories will resume international travel at different times given varying vaccination rates.
On current projections NSW will hit the 80 per cent vaccination rate on October 16. Victoria will reach the mark on November 23, Queensland on December 8 and Western Australia on December 15.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said said he was confident there’d be interest in the first flights on offer.
‘We’d already sold out some of our international flights for December and seen strong demand on flights to and from London and Los Angeles, so we’re confident there will be a lot of interest in these earlier services,’ he said.
The November flights could be moved forward or back depending on when the exact date for reopening the border is known. Qantas has consistently sold, and then been forced to cancel, tickets for international fights throughout the pandemic.
The airline said other routes set to restart in December – including to Japan, Singapore, Canada and Fiji – could also restart earlier if other states agree to operate home quarantine and open their international border.
All passengers need to be fully vaccinated and also return a negative PCR COVID-19 test 72 hours before their departure.
The re-opening of the international border would mean that NSW and Victoria residents will be able to fly to London or New York before Brisbane or Perth due to state border closures.
Qantas has also announced they will resume flights from November 14 with services flying between Sydney and Los Angeles and Sydney and London.
All other flights will resume on December 18 as previously planned.
Mr Morrison also announced the TGA is reviewing two new vaccines, Sinovac and Covishield, which are expected to be approved.
A travel bubble could be set up with Fiji (pictured) so Australians can finally go on holiday
‘They will be particularly important for those coming from countries where those vaccines are being used. India is an obvious one of those, as is China and other countries throughout South-East Asia,’ Mr Morrison said.
The government will also work with states and territories to remove travel caps on returning travellers who are vaccinated only.
Quarantine may be scrapped entirely for double-vaccinated people coming from travel bubble countries, provided they test negative on arrival.
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.
NSW is conducting 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.
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