International travellers who fly into New South Wales will soon be able to quarantine at their home instead of a hotel if they’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We are sending a really clear signal that the future of hotel quarantine will end for people (who) are double vaccinated,” NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said today.
The state is also on the way to reopening its international borders once it reaches the 80% fully-vaccinated milestone, which is now forecast for late October – with home isolation shaping up to be an option for "Aussies returning home through Sydney airport (and) also our citizens having the opportunity to go overseas when previously they weren't able to,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce welcomed the state's announcement, saying "we've been working closely with the Federal and NSW Governments on how we can safely transition to home quarantine, which is an important stepping stone in re-starting international passenger services."
The first step in NSW's exit from the hotel quarantine model will involve a small trial of home quarantine, under which 175 returning travellers will isolate at home for seven days, rather than in a hotel for two weeks.
Those selected for the pilot program will include a mix of Qantas crew, NSW residents and non-Australian residents who have a suitable place to spend their week of self-isolation.
The trial will “utilise technology, particularly facial recognition and location-based services apps on your phone to allow police and health (officials) to continue to check-in on a person during their home-based quarantine.”
Of the 175 people selected for the pilot, 50 will be Qantas air crews, with the remaining 125 being regular travellers who would be selected prior to their arrival into Australia.
Upon arrival, transport between the airport and the traveller’s home would be arranged by NSW Health during the trial phase, to avoid the use of taxis and rideshare services.
“This is very welcome news for our crews who have been flying overseas to bring Australians home and to carry essential freight, chalking up months in quarantine since the pandemic began," Joyce said.
“They are all fully vaccinated and it will make a real difference to their lives being able to quarantine in their own home and to halve the amount of time they’re isolated.
A timeline for the broader use of home quarantine in NSW has not yet been identified, but the trial will initially run for four weeks, with around 40 travellers participating in the trial each week.
Today's meeting of the National Cabinet will discuss a broader adoption by states of home quarantine for fully vaccinated Australians returning from overseas.