International travel could be back on the table for NSW earlier than expected, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
During a live stream on Facebook last night, the Prime Minister said he had discussed bringing forward the state’s international border reopening with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.
Morrison said the NSW government is looking for ways to fast-track home quarantine in November.
“If that happens, we will be able to move to facilitate the opening up of the international border into NSW sooner,” the PM said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed NSW was planning to fast-track international travel as early as the end of this month, and that international arrival caps would be scrapped as a result.
Speaking on ABC Radio National this morning, Hunt said Australians are used to home quarantine through its use in interstate travel and by those who have come in close contact with cases of COVID-19.
“The reason we’re so keen on home quarantine as a mechanism is not just so people can travel overseas to reunite with family or friends or loved ones, but also for people to be able to come back,” the Health Minister said.
“They have carried part of the burden for the nation, but it has kept us safe and this means we can now bring them home.”
Perrottet said on Sunday he wanted international borders open as quickly as possible to get stranded Australians home.
The federal government had originally planned for states to open their international borders once they had met the National Cabinet’s 80 per cent vaccinated population target in mid-November.
NSW emerged from more than 100 days of lockdown today, with stay-at-home orders lifted for fully-vaccinated people at 12:01am this morning.
From today, cafes, bars and restaurants can reopen, up to 10 people will be able to visit a home and caps on weddings and funerals will increase.
Corporate Traveller’s general manager for Australia, Tom Walley, said ‘Freedon Day’ in NSW is a much-needed lifeline for both small and medium-sized businesses, and could be the catalyst to economic recovery across the state.
“Sydney is a main artery of the Australian economy and SME businesses will no doubt be a backbone of the inevitable recovery that’ll take place over coming months,” Walley said.
“The next major milestone will be when NSW hits 80 per cent double vaccinated, as that is when intrastate travel will open. We’ve already seen a big uplift in both the number of searches and the number of booking for corporate travel towards the back-end of the year.
“From the conversations I’ve had with prospects and current customers, the pent-up demand to get back out there face-to-face and to pitch for new business is insatiable, with the passion for people getting on planes not being diminished by this global pandemic.”
Walley isn’t the only one celebrating, with Virgin Australia dropping 50,000 regional NSW sale fares from $49 to Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour to mark Freedom Day.
The cheap flights are for travel from 1 November (shortly after the foreshadowed resumption of travel within NSW) and 23 June 2022, and will be on sale until midnight on Wednesday 13 October 2021, or until sold out.
A Virgin spokesperson said the sale is the airline’s way of saying thank you to NSW residents who have rolled up their sleeves to get vaccinated.
“We’re so proud of NSW and we look forward to celebrating many more freedom days around the country as more Australians get vaccinated against COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.
“Our industry relies on a connected nation, and the quicker everyone is vaccinated, the quicker we can return to the people and the things we love, including travelling more freely.”
Featured image source: Instagram/dom.perrottet