The Australian city of Sydney will allow the entry of fully vaccinated travellers from overseas from Nov. 1 without the need for quarantine, authorities said on Friday, although the easing of strict entry controls will initially benefit only citizens.
The decision comes as New South Wales state, of which Sydney is capital, is expected to reach an 80% first-vaccination dose rate on Saturday, well ahead of the rest of Australia, which will enable it to bring forward the entry of overseas arrivals by several weeks.
“We need to rejoin the world. We can’t live here in a hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up,” New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet said.
Australia closed its borders in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic, allowing entry almost exclusively only to citizens and permanent residents, who have to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine at their expense.
As well as ditching plans for home quarantine, which had been expected to replace hotel stays, Perrottet said New South Wales would welcome all overseas arrivals.
But he was quickly overruled by Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said the government would stick with plans to first open the border to citizens and permanent residents.
“This is about Australian residents and citizens first,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
“The (federal) government has made no decision to allow other visa holders … to come into Australia under these arrangements,” he said.
Unvaccinated travellers from overseas will also be allowed back into New South Wales, but only 210 each week and they will have to undergo hotel quarantine upon arrival.