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."