Australia removes international incoming passenger arrival caps

Fully-vaccinated Australians stranded overseas will finally be able to return, and spend seven days in home quarantine.

By David Flynn, October 1 2021
Australia removes international incoming passenger arrival caps

  • Limit on international arrivals to be removed in November for fully-vaccinated travellers
  • Home quarantine to replace hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals
  • Sydney and Melbourne expected to be the first to welcome uncapped flights

Australia will remove the passenger cap on international arrivals in November for fully-vaccinated travellers, although it will be up to individual states to implement once they reach an 80% vaccination threshold.

The move is part of the lifting of Australia’s international travel ban and will help bring home the estimated 44,000 Australians who have registered with DFAT as remaining stranded overseas, many of them since March 2020 when the country closed its borders.

Initially, those flights will be available only to "Australians or permanent residents overseas to return if they haven't come back yet," says Federal Health Minuster Greg Hunt.

"It's not initially about opening up travel for other people from overseas. It starts with Australians who are fully vaccinated doing that."

Those returning Australians will need to have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 using a jab recognised by Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The TGA currently recognises AztraZenica, Pfizer and Moderna, but the government has said that China's Sinovac and India's COVID Shield will also be given the nod, with the US single-shot from Johnson & Johnson also expected to be approved.

Novavax is still under evaluation, and the TGA has yet to recommend approving China'ss other major vaccine, Sinopharm.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the recognition of Sinovac and COVID Shield "will be particularly important for those coming from countries where those vaccines are being used. India is an obvious one of those, as is China and other countries throughout South-East Asia."

In addition to mainland China, over 80 other countries have incorporated Sinovac into their national vaccination program: among them Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Chile.

Fully-vaccinated Australians and permanent residents returning from overseas will be able to quarantine at home for seven days; unvaccinated travellers will still have to enter 14 days of quarantine at a hotel or dedicated facility, and at their own expense.

Australian citizens and permanent residents who cannot be vaccinated – such as those under 12 or with a medical condition – will be treated as vaccinated for the purposes of their travel.

Today’s decision is in line with the federal government’s Covid-19 response plan, which allowed that once full vaccination of the eligible adult population reached 80%, the caps on returning vaccinated Australians would be abolished – although this is now to state-based vaccination rates, rather than nation-wide.

Australia introduced strict limits on the number of overseas arrivals in July 2020 to reduce the pressure on hotel quarantine facilities, and in July 2021 reduced the cap to just over 3,000 people per week in an effort to stem the spread of the highly infectious Covid-19 Delta variant.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

UA

30 Jun 2015

Total posts 27

If you look at the Delta Airlines/ Mayo Clinic study then vaccinated plus PCR at 72 hours plus Rapid Antigen prior to boarding means only 1 in 10,000 pax likely have Covid on arrival. With over a 1000 new cases per day in Vic/NSW who are then allowed unsupervised home quarantine why are we concerned with inbound/outbound Australian traveller volumes at any percentage for NSW/Victoria?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

20 Jan 2016

Total posts 3

The accuracy of the rapid test also makes the need for quarantine completely redundant

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 214

Rapid testing isn't on its own very reliable for that, it's very different to a PCR test.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

So how will this work for people who have to fly into Sydney (because QF is SYD centric) but then need a domestic connection to get “home”. Do they quarantine in Sydney or at home?

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 49

Wouldn't be surprised if there's a potential opportunity for airbnb style quarantine rooms/facilities for 7 nights rent at a NSW private address/property for interstate transit passengers. Certainly to be cheaper than $3000 at a hotel

11 Dec 2016

Total posts 42

I own a home near SYD and have thought about this for some time. It will depend on whether there's a requirement to quarantine within a particular radius of the airport and whether Queensland and other states will recognise the NSW home quarantine. Clearly a lot of policy yet to be written. 

17 Sep 2021

Total posts 2

cxflyer. I posed that question regarding airbnb being an option about a week ago regarding Australian citizens currently living and working overseas and without a permanent address in Australia.

02 Oct 2021

Total posts 3

Latest scientific data shows that Persons who have recovered from COVID-19 have 13 x greater immunity and protected than those who have had two Pfizer vaccinations.

Why are these travel laws not allowing non-vaccinated folk to return who have indeed recovered from the virus and have strong immunity to covid and the variants??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Nov 2018

Total posts 97

Better immunity? Oh really? And where did you get this information from? Who conducted the study? What was the sample size? How long did this “immunity” last for?

If you’re going to post such a claim, back it up with references please.

02 Oct 2021

Total posts 3

Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough. infectionsdoi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415 

"Conclusions This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity. Individuals who were both previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and given a single dose of the vaccine gained additional protection against the Delta variant."

Down votes for providing new evidence? I hope you can change your mind this time. I did your research for you. I hope you enjoy reading published medical journal papers, this isn't a blog.

https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-7917.ES.2021.26.6.2100096

Another research paper, this one about long lasting immunity and relating antibodies. Peer reviewed.

02 Oct 2021

Total posts 3

Comparing SARS-CoV-2 natural immunity to vaccine-induced immunity: reinfections versus breakthrough. infections. doi: 10.1101/2021.08.24.21262415 

"Conclusions This study demonstrated that natural immunity confers longer lasting and stronger protection against infection, symptomatic disease and hospitalization caused by the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, compared to the BNT162b2 two-dose vaccine-induced immunity. Individuals who were both previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 and given a single dose of the vaccine gained additional protection against the Delta variant."

Down votes for providing new evidence? I hope you can change your mind this time. I did your research for you. I hope you enjoy reading published medical journal papers, this isn't a blog.

Another research paper, this one about long lasting immunity and relating antibodies. Peer reviewed. 

"Israeli study boosts belief post-COVID immunity stays when antibodies fade". The link to the paper is in there, you cannot post links here. Do your own research, instead of blasting someone on the internet trying to provide helpful data to declutter the world of vax/anti-vax propaganda.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 23

@LatestData, I don't know exactly why Australia (I assume you are talking about returning Australian citizens/residents?) does not recognise immunity gained from previous infection(s) but I think this has something to do with Australia being typically rather risk-averse to any ideas that were still seen 'experimental'.

In my observation, we prefer to 'wait and see how other countries perform first then we make decisions' from there. This observation is not just for health-related issues but also any other ideas in general. In corporate/government agencies world, it is more often you hear things like 'Which other countries or which other companies have done this or have adopted this approach/technologies/innovation, etc', rather than 'Let's be bold and be a trailblazer for this new ideas/approach/tehcnologies/whatever new'. Just my non-scientific observation.

Anyway, on a different note, with the removal of incoming passengers cap, I expect more airlines to soon sell more seats for incoming flights to Sydney/Melbourne? Hopefully as early as mid November!

It is about time for people to spend the upcoming festive season together again. I am so sick of Zoom/Teams and the likes that I wish I never had to use those things again for months or years to come (not possible I know but a wish nevertheless!).

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 19

Can QLD enforce a ban on Int travel? I thought Fedral controlled aviation? And if they can on what grounds? 

08 May 2020

Total posts 32

Exactly.  So federal gvt has said 80% in YOUR state is the criteria for leaving.  Presumably it will be very easy to escape via NSW, you might even be able to just book a flight via SYD and walking across the tarmac from the domestic to international terminal is enough to meet the criteria.

The coming back will be the complicated bit potentially:
- Quarantine arrangements are defined by state governments
- Arrival caps are defined by federal government but in cooperation with state governments

I think there might be an awkward 2 or 3 months where everyone gets stuck overseas until state premiers decide to do 7-day home quarantine.

08 May 2020

Total posts 32

Although I suppose you could do 14 days in NSW before travelling back to QLD/WA assuming domestic borders begin to relax.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 697

Silly question, so what are Qld going to use the Wellcamp Quarantine camp for if the Federal government is changing to 7 day home quarantine? Are they going to make up their  own rules and still have 14 day @ Wellcamp?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1000

In theory, it could be used for unvaccinated travellers arriving but given most airlines won’t provide carriage for unvaccinated people, there may not be many of them. 

GoRobin Banned
GoRobin Banned

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Incoming passenger arrival caps may have been removed under federal legislation, but you need to read the Health Orders of each individual state to see what the quarantine conditions are. As of reading them now, I see that all states and territories require ALL arriving passengers to undergo a mandatory 14 day managed quarantine at their own cost. These conditions have nothing to do with federal legislation. So nothing has changed. Only when a state changes their Health Orders things could improve. Freedom of arrival is in the detail and not in the electioneering propaganda of the federal government.

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 19

I would say at the 70/80% vaccinated rate the emergency powers act is nil and void, and would have no grounds to continue to run. You cant just keep making the rules up without good reason. Checks and Balances need to be carried out.


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