Australians will be able to travel overseas by November as Scott Morrison lifts travel ban

Asia's Tech News Daily

Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Australia’s outbound travel ban will be lifted from 1 November in a move triggered by New South Wales announcing an end to quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals.

On Friday the prime minister, Scott Morrison, told reporters in Sydney that from 1 November “we will be allowing Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families, to leave Australia from wherever they live in Australia and return”.

Although vaccinated travellers will be able to arrive in New South Wales without quarantine, Morrison noted arrivals will still be capped in other states “because of the vaccination levels in those places”.

In response, Qantas has moved forward the resumption of international travel by two weeks, announcing it will operate up to five return flights a week from Sydney to London and up to four a week from Sydney to Los Angeles from 1 November.

Related: NSW regional travel pushed back again as state moves to second phase of reopening

The end of the outbound ban will encourage airlines such as Singapore Airlines to fly passengers out of other Australian capital cities, which have maintained inbound flights for cargo only.

Singapore already runs 17 flights into Sydney a week, only seven with limited passenger numbers, and will now be able to sell inbound tickets to returning permanent residents, citizens and their families, and outbound flights.

Nevertheless, travellers leaving Australia will face uncertainty about which ports they can return to other than Sydney and when other states will follow NSW’s lead on quarantine-free travel. Victoria is the most likely to do so when the double-dose vaccination rate reaches 80% in early November.

Vaccinated travellers arriving in NSW will need a pre-flight Covid test. Unvaccinated passengers will be capped at 210 arrivals a week, who will still undergo two-week hotel quarantine.

In a statement Qantas said flights to destinations including Singapore, Fiji and Vancouver are still scheduled to commence from 18 December 2021 with other destinations to restart in the new year, but the airline is looking at bringing forward travel to some additional destinations from Sydney.

    Qantas flights from Melbourne to London, Los Angeles and Singapore and Brisbane to Los Angeles and Singapore are due to resume on 18 and 19 December.

    Qantas Group chief executive, Alan Joyce, said “bringing forward the reopening of Australia to the world … is a massive step towards life as we knew it”.

    “In just a little over two weeks, Australians around the world can fly into Sydney and people from around Australia can leave on trips they’ve been waiting almost two years to take,” he said.

    Related: $5,000 return: sky-high ticket prices hit Australians’ holiday hopes as airlines prepare for takeoff

    The indefinite ban on non-essential outbound travel introduced in March 2020 has proved one of the most controversial anti-coronavirus measures, separating families due to its combination with strict hotel quarantine caps on return to Australia.

    But due to a generous system of exemptions, more than 170,000 Australians were authorised to leave Australia in the first 15 months of the ban.

    The policy led to complaints of double standards and that those allowed to leave – including former prime minister Tony Abbott – were crowding Australians seeking to return out of hotel quarantine places.

    In June the federal court rejected a challenge to the ban brought by rightwing thinktank Libertyworks.

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