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COVID-19: Some state borders to open from 20 July

COVID-19: Some state borders to open from 20 July

Some Australian state and territory borders have been closed during the pandemic. This has meant that travel, whether it be by car, or train or plane has not been possible between some states from mid-March until at least the present day.

Australian Border closures as of today (Saturday 13 June, 2020)

You can traverse the borders of the restricted states if you have an exemption, usually on the basis of the needs of emergency services, or on compassionate grounds, or transporting essential goods, otherwise, you have to self isolate, usually for 2 weeks, in some states, at government expense, and in other states, you have to reach into your own pocket.

Here is a broad summary of the current situation:

  • Australian Capital Territory
    NO RESTRICTIONS
  • New South Wales
    NO RESTRICTIONS
  • Northern Territory
    ENTRY PROHIBITED
  • Queensland
    ENTRY PROHIBITED
  • South Australia
    ENTRY PROHIBITED
  • Tasmania
    ENTRY PROHIBITED
  • Victoria
    NO RESTRICTIONS
  • Western Australia
    ENTRY PROHIBITED

This is a simplified summary. You can find a full list with exceptions and exemptions, and how to apply for them here.

International border closures

And of course, Australia’s borders are closed for inbound travel, unless you quarantine for 14 days in government arranged hotel accommodation. Transit passengers who depart on a connecting flight from the same airport within eight hours and don’t leave the airport do not need to go to quarantine, or seek an exemption. Outbound travel is also verboten, except under certain specific circumstances.

(Forgive me for including a clip from the less than progressive, and conspiracy supporting Sky News network)

State borders to open

After the national cabinet met yesterday (Friday 12 June), the lifting of some border restrictions was announced. Don’t get too excited, as they are not set in stone, and will depend on the future infection rates and patterns for COVID-19 across Australia.

Next month in July 2020, this is what the border situation is planned to look like:

  • Australian Capital Territory
    NO RESTRICTIONS
  • New South Wales
    NO RESTRICTIONS
  • Northern Territory
    ENTRY PROHIBITED (from 15 June – self-quarantine)
  • Queensland
    Borders Open: 10 July 2020 (TBC end of June 2020)
  • South Australia
    Borders Open: 20 July 2020 (Announced 12 June 2020)
  • Tasmania
    ENTRY PROHIBITED
    (Opening borders considered in early July 2020)
  • Victoria
    NO RESTRICTIONS
  • Western Australia
    ENTRY PROHIBITED
    (rumoured to re-open in September)

This is good news for those who need to travel interstate, and I am one of those.

When will International borders reopen?

The simple answer is we don’t know. The more nuanced answer is, it will be after state, or at least the more populous ones (sorry Tasmania and Western Australia, ACT and NT) remove their border restrictions.

There is, however a plan to pilot a scheme for international students to return to Australia, on flights arranged in co-operation with the federal government and universities.

“I made clear to the states and territories today, if someone can’t come to your state from Sydney, then someone can’t come to your state from Singapore,”

The Prime Minister (Scott Morrison) in the SMH

The persistent rumour around the travel industry that I have heard from a range of sources is that you can kiss general inbound or outbound international flight goodbye until 2021.

Brisbane Airport Carpark

2PAXfly Takeout

These dates could all change.

It’s important to remember that the pandemic is an evolving situation.

Australia has been very lucky so far. We acted fairly early, with heavy restrictions on travel, public venues and gatherings, and implemented hygiene controls and physical distancing pretty early.

We weren’t as restrictive as New Zealand – which has become a kind of gold standard, but we were way more active in prevention including testing and contact tracing than the USA – and look how that is turning out for them. Don’t start me on Brazil.

Depart 20 July 2020

I have some family business to attend to in South Australia, so I’m thinking about flying over there the week after the border opens. Qantas is not missing a trick here. Airfares for the week after the border opening have already risen. A Red e-Deal has gone up from AU$156 one-way if booked yesterday to AU$180 today! When its facemasks we’ve been calling that ‘gouging’. In the airline industry, I think the term is ‘dynamic pricing’.

Looks like my trip to the USA and the Caribbean in October/November might be in doubt though. Mind you, that will come as little surprise.

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