Australia will open its border to its citizens for international travel in November, although the possibility for foreign visitors to enter remains further afield, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.
The Australian border has been largely closed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, with only a limited number of Australians allowed to travel abroad and then be subject to a 14-day hotel quarantine in their costs on their return. Nearly 80% of Australians have received at least the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, according to Morrison, and “much of the country” will move into “phase C” of Australia’s plan to reopen, which includes authorization of international travel for a total duration of vaccinated Australians.
As part of the plan, Australians will be able to travel and return to a seven-day home quarantine rather than a hotel quarantine. The country is also striving to travel without quarantine to some destinations, such as New Zealand, according to Morrison.
In response to the news, Qantas announced plans to restart international service on November 14, a month ahead of schedule. The carrier plans to start with three weekly flights each between Sydney and London and Los Angeles. These routes have been the most frequently searched for on the Qantas website in recent weeks, and the carrier will add more if demand is higher. The start date could be changed once Australia announces an exact opening date.
“We had already sold out some of our international flights for December and saw high demand on flights to and from London and Los Angeles, so we are confident that there will be a lot of interest in these earlier services.” , said Alan, CEO of Qantas Group. Joyce said in a statement. “Beyond the initial rush, continued demand for international flights will largely depend on quarantine requirements. Switching to a seven-day home quarantine for Australians fully vaccinated with a negative test is a big step towards reduction of what is becoming standard in many overseas countries, which is a test and release program. “
Citing a government source, Reuters said discussions were underway to allow foreign visitors to enter Australia as well, but it is not yet possible to attach a timeline for that return.