Premier Gladys Berejiklian has flagged an official date for when overseas travel will make a likely return for residents of NSW.
Dust off those passports — because the likely date NSW residents can head overseas has been released.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Monday the three-step reopening plan for the state, signifying major freedom changes in October, November and December.
Ms Berejiklian said the first freedoms for vaccinated residents will be from October 11, the first Monday after the state reaches the 70 per cent vaccination rate.
The Premier expects the 80 per cent target to be hit just two weeks later, which will include the return of regional travel and the ability for residents to “consider” international trips.
Ms Berejiklian said if Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives overseas travel the green light to NSW once the 80 per cent vaccination rate is met, she will be “thrilled”.
“We believe by 1 December we will be at that Covid normal state where hopefully we will be booking our international travel, once the Prime Minister gives that green light we will be able to go overseas as well,” the Premier said.
“The Prime Minister and I have been in engaging in very positive conversation about what will occur. The Federal Government makes those decisions [regarding international borders] but we are very encouraged that certain airlines have made announces about destinations they might fly to and we are encouraged by that.
“That is why we have started the home quarantine trial so that fully vaccinated Australians will have confidence that if they do choose to go overseas and come back home they will be able to stay out their quarantine at home and potentially only for a 7-day period.”
Ms Berejiklian said at 80 per cent, while interstate travel may not return for all jurisdictions — such as WA or Queensland — intrastate travel will make a welcome return for the vaccinated.
“At 80 per cent, you will be able to go anywhere freely in New South Wales, you will be able to stand up and have a drink at a pub, you will be able to do obviously consider international travel,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“The third stage of reopening will happen on 1 December. That is at least four or five weeks after we hit the 80 per cent double dose. We envisage we will have at least 90 per cent of our adult population vaccinated by then.”
Ms Berejiklian said she hopes other states will open to NSW once the 80 per cent target is reached.
“I don’t want to it be the case that I will be able to go overseas before I can go to Perth,” the Premier said.
“I hope Australia will open up together once we get to those double dose figures and we will be able to, as one nation, move freely within our own country as well as have the opportunity to go overseas.”
Qantas announces major flight route changes
Australian airline Qantas was quick to respond to the NSW government’s announcement around intrastate travel and the suggestion of overseas trips by December.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce announced an updated flying schedule in response to the reopening plans and latest border assumptions in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
The key domestic changes include:
– Bringing forward the reopening date for travel between Victoria and New South Wales from 1 December to 5 November 2021, based on Victoria’s reopening plan.
– Significantly increasing regional flying within New South Wales from 25 October 2021, in line with the State Government’s road map, to around 40 per cent of pre-Covid levels.
– Delaying the restart of domestic flying between Western Australia and Victoria / New South Wales by two months to 1 February 2022, based on border assumptions.
“It’s great to see plans firming up for some domestic borders opening given the success of the national vaccine rollout,” Mr Joyce said in a statement.
“We’re now planning to ramp up flying between Melbourne and Sydney, which is usually the second busiest air route in the world, almost a month earlier than expected. There are also a lot of regional destinations that will open up for the first time since June, which is great news for tourism as well as family and friends who can’t wait to see each other again.”
Internationally, the airline said flights are still on track to gradually restart from 18 December 2021 onwards to destinations like the US, London, Singapore and Japan.
However, as previously suggested, Qantas will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service until at least April 2022 due to the latest WA border settings and assumptions.
“WA doesn’t intend to open to international travel until sometime next year,” Mr Joyce said.
“So we’ll unfortunately have to temporarily move our Perth-London service until at least April 2022. Instead of operating from Melbourne to Perth and then on to London as it usually does, this flight will operate from Melbourne to London via either Darwin or Singapore, depending on conversations we’re having with the NT in the coming weeks.”