Travel Restrictions in Australia Remain Complicated — 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. That, however, has changed following a recent outbreak in Victoria which has resulted in the NSW-Victoria border to shut down until situation is under control — the first border closure between the states in 100 years.

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced on 6 July that from 11.59pm Tuesday, 7 July, the Victorian-NSW border closure would be enforced on the NSW side.

“There will be a permit system and further detailed arrangements will be announced by the Premier of New South Wales a bit later on today,” Andrews said in the press conference.

“I think [the border closure] will help us in broader terms contain the spread of the virus and what it means, for instance, is many staff who are currently being employed or deployed to take temperatures, to do all sorts of coordination work, whether it be at our airports or at train stations, for instance, will no longer have to do that work and can potentially be redeployed into arguably much more important roles.”

While the restrictions start from 11.59pm Tuesday, 7 July, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said no one from Melbourne would be allowed in effective immediately.

“Nobody from Melbourne will be able to cross the border in the next 24 hours. Come midnight tomorrow night it will be all Victorians,” Berejiklian said.

“Obviously, there will always be exemptions. Due to hardship cases, people can apply for exemptions, so for those reasons we anticipate there will still be some flights and train services available. There will also be New South Wales residents returning home. So for that reason we do anticipate there will still be flights and obviously passenger train services, but only for those who have got permits and only for those who are returning New South Wales residents.”

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

Victoria is experiencing a new outbreak, which has seen the return of some stricter restrictions for the metropolitan Melbourne area and Mitchell Shire to the north. That means those living in the identified areas will no longer be able to leave for leisure travel until the restrictions are lifted. For the time being, they’re expected to end in six weeks on 11:59 on Wednesday 19 August 2020.

Victorians outside of the above areass can continue to travel around the state for now but are no longer able to enter NSW from 11.59pm, 7 July. For any Victorians hoping to fly elsewhere, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland and the Northern Territory also 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 for all — apart from Victoria — as they have throughout the crisis and the advice suggests NSW holidays are an option.

The government advice says to not travel to the above Melbourne lockdown suburbs and to reconsider travelling to Victoria generally, especially given the NSW border closure.

“Anyone who enters the ACT from 7.00am on 3 July 2020, and has been in a COVID-19 hotspot in Victoria (as defined at the time of their entry to the ACT), is required to quarantine in the ACT at their own expense until 14 days after leaving the hotspot, or return to their home jurisdiction at the earliest reasonable opportunity,” the advice reads.

“Passengers on inbound flights from Melbourne will be asked to provide identification when they arrive at Canberra Airport.”

Otherwise, most other interstate travel restrictions remain in place leaving ACT residents with two holiday destination options — the ACT or NSW.

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 with the exception of those from Greater Melbourne. From 17 July, those from Greater Melbourne, including the identified hot spots and Mitchell Shire residents, will have to undergo mandatory supervised quarantine for 14 days at their own expense if they plan to enter the territory.

For everyone else, however, it’s expected the NT borders will be effectively re-opened from 17 July and those outside of Victoria will no longer need to self-quarantine when they arrive in the territory.

UPDATED 8 July 2020: This story has been updated with the latest information on the NSW-Victoria border closure and NT updates on the border.

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