Fully-vaccinated Australians returning home from overseas will no longer need to enter quarantine in Sydney from November 1 as NSW becomes the first Australian state to drop mandatory quarantine.
"Hotel quarantine and home quarantine are a thing of the past" declared NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet at a press conference this morning.
As of November 1, the only requirement will be that people arriving into NSW – which mainly happens through the state's Sydney Airport gateway – must be fully-vaccinated with an approval shot, and take a Covid-19 test before boarding their flight to Australia.
That date also sync up with reports earlier this week that NSW could unlock its borders and permit international as soon as November 1, based on estimates that the state will pass the 80% vaccination milestone around October 18.
The state has been trialling a seven-day home quarantine program as it prepared to end hotel quarantine, but Perrottet says even this measure will no longer be needed.
"For double vaccinated people around the world, Sydney, NSW, is open for business," he said. "We will work closely with the Commonwealth to ensure protections are in place so we keep people safe (as we) rejoin the world."
On the back of this announcement, Qantas will bring forward the restart of flights from Sydney to London and Los Angeles to November 1, and is considering an earlier take-off for flights from Sydney to several other destinations including Singapore, Fiji and Vancouver, which were slated for December 18.
For returning Aussies, not for tourists
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has over-ruled Perrottet on welcoming double-jabbed international tourists to NSW as part of the move to abandon quarantine, insisting this is "about Australian residents and citizens first."
Morrison said "the Commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors... to come to Australia under these arrangements."
"They are decisions for the Commonwealth government and when we are in a position to make that decision down the track, obviously in NSW, they will be able to do so if they are vaccinated without having to quarantine."
Travel on flights into Sydney from November 1 will be restricted to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families and parents.
As of November 1, NSW will also remove its caps for overseas arrivals, provided once again that all travellers have been fully-vaccinated with a shot approved by the national Therapeutic Goods Administration.
That list currently includes Pfizer, AstraZenica and Moderna, and is being expanded to embrace the Chinese Sinovac (but not Sinopharm) and India's Covishield.
However, Ayres said that 14 days of hotel quarantine will still be used for arrivals who are not fully vaccinated, with those quarantine spaces "capped at 210 people per week."
Perrottet also took a swipe at Western Australia's insistence on keeping its state borders closed, saying that people from NSW would "be travelling to Bali before Broome."
As for visitors from overseas: "If you want to come here, stay in New South Wales and stay in Sydney. Have a great time here before you (go) home and spend up big."