Travel Restrictions in Australia Remain Complicated — But Here’s What’s Changed

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Parts of Australia have started to re-open but it’s not without a series of confusing restrictions applying to some of the population but not another. States and territories have each announced their own changes to border and travel restrictions but like the coronavirus situation, those announcements too are fluid.

In line with federal recommendations to re-open the economy after the coronavirus shutdown, states and territories are slowly opening up borders and letting Australians move around for leisure again.

There are, however, some delays. New outbreaks have threatened to delay or indefinitely suspend whether states and territories once again allow interstate tourists to cross borders, bringing with them the threat of an unseen virus.

Still, for many, the option to leave the house and visit somewhere new in Australia will be a welcome change given overseas travel is off the cards for at least the next six months but likely much longer.

With that in mind, here’s where you can travel around Australia, depending on the state or territory you reside in.

Where can I travel interstate now?

New South Wales

Those living in NSW won’t be able to visit Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory for now unless they’re deemed essential, but crossing the ACT border is permitted. Crossing into Victoria has become a little more complicated in recent weeks, however.

NSW’s borders were one of the few in the country that did not close to other Australians during the height of the coronavirus outbreak and that remains unchanged for now. A recent outbreak in Victoria has seen the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard announce new rules for any NSW resident visiting those identified suburbs.

“If you actually … choose to go there when you really shouldn’t be going there and you come back to New South Wales, you’ll be required to go into isolation here for 14 days and if you breach that order, then, of course, you’ll be liable to a penalty if you’re required by the police to go to court,” Hazzard said in a press confernece on 1 July.

“It could be an $11,000 fine, or a six-month jail sentence.”

The affected Victorian suburbs include:

  • 3012: Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
  • 3021: Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans
  • 3032: Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore
  • 3038: Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lodge, Watergardens
  • 3042: Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie
  • 3046: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park
  • 3047: Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana
  • 3055: Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West
  • 3060: Fawkner
  • 3064: Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickelham, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo

“I must stress to everyone that, while we want people to enjoy a well-earned holiday, we must do this responsibly and continue to abide by physical distancing measures, as the last thing we want is further outbreaks that will force us to reintroduce restrictions,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said, warning residents to take precautions.

Despite interstate restrictions, NSW residents have been allowed to move around their own backyard since 1 June which saw an ease in leisure travel restrictions and the re-opening of a number of caravan parks and camping grounds.

Victoria

Similar to NSW, Victorian borders aren’t closed so anyone wanting to enter the state can continue to do so. The state, however, is experiencing a new outbreak, which has seen the return of some stricter restrictions for certain Melbourne suburbs. That means those living in the following suburbs will no longer be able to leave for leisure travel until the restrictions are revised on 29 July:

  • 3012: Brooklyn, Kingsville, Maidstone, Tottenham, West Footscray
  • 3021: Albanvale, Kealba, Kings Park, St Albans
  • 3032: Ascot Vale, Highpoint City, Maribyrnong, Travancore
  • 3038: Keilor Downs, Keilor Lodge, Taylors Lodge, Watergardens
  • 3042: Airport West, Keilor Park, Niddrie
  • 3046: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park
  • 3047: Broadmeadows, Dallas, Jacana
  • 3055: Brunswick South, Brunswick West, Moonee Vale, Moreland West
  • 3060: Fawkner
  • 3064: Craigieburn, Donnybrook, Mickelham, Roxburgh Park, Kalkallo

Victorians, except if they’re from the above suburbs, will be allowed to cross the border into NSW and ACT but South Australia is still off the cards. For any Victorians hoping to fly elsewhere, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory remain off limits and plans to change that have been delayed by the recent outbreaks.

Queensland

Queensland has announced it will soon allow interstate travellers from midday, 10 July. They’ll need to sign a border declaration confirming they have not visited Victoria in the previous 14 days.

Victorians have been specifically left off this list due to the recent outbreaks and will need to go into a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense if they attempt to enter the state. Additionally, Queenslanders are not allowed to visit anywhere within Victoria until the orders are lifted.

South Australia

South Australia had planned to open its borders to Victoria, New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory from 20 July but it has been indefinitely delayed due to Victoria’s outbreak. Those coming from Queensland, the Northern Territory, Tasmania or Western Australia, however, won’t need to undertake the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

People travelling for essential work or who have been given permission on compassionate grounds will be allowed to travel unrestricted.

If you’re a South Australian, however, you’ll be allowed to travel across the state with no restrictions. That means small trips are back on the cards for you.

Tasmania

Tasmania was the first state to announce effective border closures back in March and they’re still ongoing to this day meaning if you’re not Tasmanian, you’ll need to quarantine for 14 days in “government provided accommodation”.

Tasmanians are welcome to travel to Victoria, the ACT and NSW but will need to quarantine for 14 days at home once they return to the island state.

The state government has tentatively pencilled in 24 July as the day for re-opening the border to interstate travellers but has cautioned it won’t go ahead if the situation on the mainland deteriorates.

Western Australia

Western Australians can travel relatively freely around the state with the exception of remote Aboriginal communities in the state’s north-eastern region.

The state, which is currently in phase four, had planned to remove interstate border restrictions from phase six. That is likely going to be further delayed into August with the worsening situation in Victoria.

“A tentative date for the removal of WA’s hard border was planned to be included as part of Phase 6, however, this was put on hold due to the rapidly evolving situation in Victoria,” the site reads.

“When an indicative date is set in the future, it will be contingent on locally acquired infection rates in the eastern states. The WA hard border will only be removed when the WA Chief Health Officer is confident the spread of infection is controlled in the eastern states.”

Australian Capital Territory

ACT’s borders remain open as they have throughout the crisis and the advice suggests NSW holidays are an option.

The government advice recommends avoiding the above Melbourne suburbs that have gone into a four-week lockdown.

“Anyone who has returned from these Melbourne postcodes recently should not attend high risk settings such as aged care facilities and hospitals for a period of 14 days after leaving the hotspot,” the site reads.

Otherwise, there are no travel restrictions in place so while you can technically travel for a holiday, the advice recommends you take extra precautions.

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory has also kept strict travel restrictions in place for now given it’s largely avoided the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak.

Anyone arriving in the NT by land, sea, air or rail will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.

People exempt from this quarantine period will still need to complete an online registration. People eligible include:

  • national and Northern Territory security and governance
  • medical transport and emergency services
  • transport, freight and logistics
  • defence and policing
  • flight crews
  • commercial ship crews
  • people with specialist skills that are critical to maintaining key government services, industries or businesses

But for now, it’s safe to say a trip to the NT is very much off the cards for non-residents. For NT dwellers, you could theoretically travel to NSW, ACT or Victoria but given you’ll have to travel through Queensland or South Australia or find a flight to get there, it might not be worth the trouble.

UPDATED 1 July 2020: This story has been updated to reflected the latest information on interstate travel within Australia. 

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