Australian airports to be divided into red zones and green zones

Here’s another sign of how international travel will look very different once Australia’s borders reopen.

By David Flynn, October 14 2021
Australian airports to be divided into red zones and green zones

Australians returning from overseas will be corralled into separate green zones and red zones at the nation's international airports, depending on the federal government's 'Covid risk rating' of the country they're arriving from.

The government will also nominate 'green zone routes' – similar to the New Zealand travel bubble and Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme – which will be subject to "eased Covid- 19 border restrictions", according to Covid-19 safety protocols drawn up by the Department of Health in a document updated on Tuesday October 12, 2021.

With the return of overseas flights just weeks away, Australia's international airports are now preparing for the newly-complicated process of handling arrivals and transits in a world splintered by the coronavirus.

"Travellers arriving in Australia will arrive via either the red or green travel zone, as determined by the Australian Government," the document states.

  • passengers arriving "from a high or medium-risk country for Covid-19" will be restricted to the airport's red zone
  • passengers arriving "from a low-risk area" will be segregated into the green zone

Red zoners will be required to "undertake mandatory quarantine in designated accommodation for 14 days from the day they entered Australia, or as otherwise determined by the state or territory of arrival."

"Modified quarantine requirements may be applied to vaccinated travellers," the Department of Health notes, while also advising that "the quarantine period and nature of quarantine accommodation may change at short notice."

Of course, the green zone is the place to be, as it means travellers can skip "14-day mandatory quarantine" on the following conditions:

  • if they have been in only Australia or a designated green zone area for at least the 14 days immediately before the date of departure, and
  • they travelled on a green zone flight

"Travellers in the green safe travel zone will not be in contact with passengers from any other countries when transiting through the airport," the Department of Health declares.

States and territories reopening their borders are now moving towards home-based quarantine for fully vaccinated travellers, with the initial seven-day period expected to be shortened to a handful of days under a 'test and release' scheme which airline and tourism chiefs believe is crucial to get Australians flying again.

Earlier this month, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce stressed that home quarantine was only a short-term solution.

"We need to move, hopefully, quite rapidly away from the seven days [home quarantine]" and towards "a testing regime – test and release – which is what a lot of countries are doing at the moment."

Also read: Are ‘smart selfies’ the key to home isolation?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Aug 2017

Total posts 68

This is frustrating, coming just after the UK's move to a sensible policy based on vaccination status rather than country of origin. 

I'm also interested to know what this means for Qantas' international network. Will every Qantas flight be a "green" flight, or only some? Qantas has been accepting bookings already: given that they won't know exactly where every passenger has been, does this mean that all Qantas flights for the foreseeable future will be "red"?

It doesn't make sense to me at all.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Jun 2016

Total posts 41

So, as I read it, if you're fully vaccinated and test negative BUT you come from a high or moderate risk country, you have to use the red zone.

Not withstanding the fact that everyone will have mingled together on the aircraft prior to arrival.

Sort of misses the point don't you think ?

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

Grumpy did you miss the bit in the article where you needed to travel on a designated green zone flight. So presumably if you have come from a red zone you wouldn’t be on a green zone flight. 

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 987

Separation works really well in SYD where the int'l terminal can clearly be split with Green Zone being one end, say Gates up to 40, whilst the Red Zone could be the other end (Gates 50+).  There would be good separation at all points including immigration and baggage collection.  BNE could sort of mirror this using left hand side for green and right hand side for red but they would still share immigration and baggage halls.

MEL is hard to split with all gates leading to a single concourse and shared immigration and baggage zones.

Not too sure how PER is set up now but realistically they are still 5 or 6 months away from international arrivals anyway.

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 131

i thought that there was going to be no traffic light system. Seems that the govt has flip flopped

14 Oct 2021

Total posts 1

Obviously some bored public servant with not much to do has come up with this nightmare. Time the government get real about being part of the real world. 

25 Jun 2021

Total posts 17

So how will Green zone say people from the UK, quarantine for 3/7days? If its say family or friend and they are staying with you is this ok?  

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

28 Jun 2019

Total posts 81

They'll need to be a citizen or PR in the first place, and then presumably need a place to stay, and of course thus far there is zero clarity around that whatsoever. Similarly, a Brit living in Australia for years but on a long-term "temporary" visa won't be allowed to go to the UK and come back to Australia even if they have a house in the bush to quarantine in alone.

At the current rate, Australians will be on holiday in Canada before I'm allowed to go back to Canada to see my family. More brilliant work from the bureaucrats, per usual.

11 May 2020

Total posts 4

This Health department memo is dated October 2020 and was written as a response to how the Trans Tasman bubble would work.

It explicitly states "From October 2020, only people who have been in New Zealand for 14 days prior to travel will be considered to be from a green zone".

Why are we bringing this up now and suggesting its going to apply next month when there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

As the article says, this document was updated on Tuesday October 12, 2021 and it seems to be very clear about how arriving travellers will be treated in airports based on where they are coming from. There will still be high-risk and low-risk countries once international travel resumes, although I agree that it's very confusing with reference to fully vaccinated travellers who can go home to enter home quarantine. But the NSW and Federal governments have already said that some form of 14 day managed quarantine will still be in place for some arrivals. I suppose like everything else with COVID travel, home quarantine arrangements etc etc this is all a bit of a 'work in progress'!

11 May 2020

Total posts 4

To me this reads as a short term update between now and when international travel opens up properly next month.

For instance, it doesn't refer to home quarantine at all or the requirement for pre flight testing or proof of vaccination.

I think it is a huge huge leap to assume this is going to apply post 15 November, especially when it contradicts everything that government has said previously and that no other publication is reporting this.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 38

It won't work why too confusing it would make sense to have red vs green zones in a pre-vaccinated covid zero world but now we are moving to post-vaccinated and living with covid. 

Why would you even bother with red or green zones considering all passengers would have gone through 72 hours pre-departure testing and will be fully vaccinated.

It makes zero sense - really if the traveller is vaccinated should no test and that's it - what are you testing for if we are at 80 or 90% vaccination levels as a population 

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

All good to have red and green zones, but the way you will be treated on arrival into any state will depend entirely upon what the state's Health Order dictates. The detail is in each state's Health Order and federal government has nothing to do with what zone you must obey. This is the power of the Health Order since March 2020. I have come and gone from NSW and know these orders well. Read them for the details of how you will be treated.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Jun 2014

Total posts 206

What a joke after it was annouced 7 days at home for all countries...

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

Can you provide a link to the 7 day isolation announcement? Anything I’ve read about it has always had several caveats. 

14 Oct 2021

Total posts 1

How will this work if you have a connection only via an Orange or red city but actually spent no time in that location besides the transit?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 119

They are going to have to do better than this. The whole point of opening at high vaccination rates is you have provided protection for most of the community. This sort of red and green zone stuff will just kill the numbers and cause all sort of delays and issues at Australian airports. Let’s rethink this and come back with a better solution. 

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

You can download the latest NSW Air Transportation Quarantine Order from this government website. Brad Hazzard changes it regularly. CLICK HERE >> https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/information/covid19-legislation

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 205

@lozzyg has a very good point. Most travellers returning from Europe and other northern hemisphere countries will transit through another airport (SIN, HKG, BKK, DOH, DXB, AUH, HND, NRT, ICN to name a few). What happens if they turn from green to reddish during one's travels?

24 Dec 2013

Total posts 100

Which is why Qantas can charge a huge premium on their DRW-LHR flights. They eliminate any risk associated with a 3rd country.

AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 619

Qantas’s also has to fly the plane to the pick up airport for the drw repatriation flights with freight only. So part of the higher ticket cost covers that. Also factors in the fact the flights are not competitive etc. 

19 Feb 2020

Total posts 4

Made sense before vaccinations; and it is what was happening in Europe 9 months ago. Now however it is completely redundant and outdated way of operating. Pre-test for vaccinated, plus possibly a test on arrival is the most logically you can ask for when you have more “risk” walking around the CBD than coming from overseas!

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 454

Good luck to those arrangements

BNE AIrport have personnel that are unable to ensure separation of pax between green flights vs non green flights during these relatively light international traffic. You would think that airport would organise arrivals to certain gates by classification of their green flight status or not, then set up physical barriers to make it impossible to “accidentally” breach or pax crossover at every level, but no, apparently this is not done this way.

Similarly the same airport have issues with domestic breaches by pax from known red zone states but details are scratchy on where the lapse is, by police or airport personnel 

CKG
CKG

09 Jun 2018

Total posts 1

Have to laugh - just got an email from QF saying my direct business flight from Canberra-Darwin in late November had changed - now fly to Syf and am on QF1 to Darwin!! Doubt it will happen for me as NT isn't changing it's COVID travel restrictions any time soon. And do wonder if will have to take passport etc as depart through Syd international terminal

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 454

Definitely a sloppy move from QF since it puts you at risk of being treated as a NSW resident which like it on not may not be in the same risk profile as being a ACT resident come late Nov


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