NSW to phase out hotel quarantine as country moves to home isolation

Swap that 14-day, $3000 stay in a hotel for a shorter length of time in the comfort of your home.

By David Flynn, September 8 2021
NSW to phase out hotel quarantine as country moves to home isolation

Home isolation will steadily replace hotel quarantine when Australia's international borders open up and overseas travel resumes from December 2021.

The length of that quarantine period could also be reduced to as little as 5-7 days for fully-vaccinated arrivals from countries considered to be in a 'low risk' category, as opposed to unrestricted travel bubble destinations, down from the current 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine for all arrivals.

Federal and state leaders and their health departments will this month pore over the results of South Australia's trial of home quarantine, which ended on the weekend after 50 residents returning to Adelaide from overseas spent 14 days quarantining at home, monitored by a smartphone app and random calls from health authorities.

Read more: SA completes home quarantine trial for overseas arrivals

Under the government's four-stage Covid-19 Response Plan, the third phase – triggered when the country reaches 80% of full vaccination, which is now on track for mid-November – should include the lifting of "all restrictions on outbound travel for vaccinated Australians" along with removing the current caps on returning vaccinated Australians.

There would also be a  "gradual reopening of inward and outward international travel with safe countries and proportionate quarantine and reduced requirements for fully vaccinated inbound travellers."

"Home quarantine is where we go next," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, "and the length of that quarantine also was what we're looking at."

Morrison will push the states and territories to detail "timetables about their introduction of home quarantine."

"Home quarantine needs to be at scale and needs to be tested and ready, and that's what's happening now, and that's what I'll continue to push to open the country up because that's what enables the national plan," Morrison said in a Sky News interview.

Last month, Morrison reiterated that "home quarantine needs to be a viable and widespread option for people who are travelling overseas and returning," as well as "people who are overseas and have been vaccinated with the vaccines that are recognised in Australia."

Homewards bound

New South Wales already intends to wind down the hotel quarantine system that's been in place since the end of March 2020, and which has seen the state taking up the lion's share of international arrivals.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian remarked on Sunday that "the current quarantine system has nearly reached its use-by date in terms of how effective it is."

"When Australians (are) coming back home fully vaccinated with a credible vaccine, it would make sense that they could quarantine at home (and) we are already considering when we do that and how we do that."

Berejiklian said "the transition will start in earnest when we hit 70% double dose" – now pegged towards the end of October – although she noted "we still need some form of quarantine" for necessary arrivals from higher-risk countries, which could include "international students (and) skilled labour."

Australia will also begin issuing internationally-recognised digital vaccination certificates to speed the return of overseas travel, with Qantas planning to resume overseas flights from December 18.

Read more: Could the Travel Pass app become Australia’s vaccination passport?


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.


22 Oct 2012

Total posts 316

There seems little point in having a compulsory hotel quarantine system in NSW at present, given that on most days there are 2 or less overseas acquired new cases, compared to well over 1,000 new cases each day locally acquired in NSW.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

Correct, if the purpose of quarantine is to keep the virus out of Victoria or NSW, then it doesn't really serve a purpose now and home quarantine should be fine particularly for double-vaxxed returnees.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 67

Correct as the model served our Covid Zero Approach but now that NSW is pivoting to "living with Covid" - I don't see the risk for a fully vaccinated Australian flying into Sydney hoping in a private car and going to their home resident and quarantining  for 14 days - while the entire state is in lockdown anyway.

And once the state is out of lockdown then we will be at 70/80% anyway with community case floating around - so your right the hotel quarantine model is already redundant for "vaccinated arrivals" - im speaking for NSW only as WA or QLD will be differ. 


11 Jul 2014

Total posts 940

As my old father would say "Hear that noise? that's me praying"

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 412

Great news, we are getting close to that 70% in NSW which according to forecasts will be ~ Oct20, and 80%  in the first week of Nov, we just need a really solid home isolation system in terms of how it's monitored and enforced, and hefty fines in the first and second instances if somebody breaks home quarantine, and third time they can be sent to a hotel for 14 days at their expense, or jail for free, their choice  LOL


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1425

While we know where residents can quarantine at home. What about those who are non resident. Hotel quarantine is here to stay methinks.

I think home quarantine is mainly for Aussies returning home from a trip or Aussies who are finally getting home from overseas where they've been stuck for months or even since 2020! As long as they are vaccinated and coming from a low risk country then they can do home quarantine. I think a visitor from a low-risk country would have to do hotel quarantine for the same period of time, maybe seven days, which of course won't have much appeal to tourists or even business travellers.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

I think for green zone arrivals (say double vaxxed person from SG), a visitor would probably be required to stay in hotel for a couple of days pending arrival test results.  

Arrivals from red zones will probably still rely on hotel quarantine or quarantine camps such as Darwin but it is unlikely that there will be scheduled services from these red locations anyway.

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 527

At the beginning, presumably yes, but one can probably assume this will be loosened after a few months and thus home quarantine will no longer be required at all.

One would hope that over the course of 2022, particularly after April or especially July, that hotel quarantine will mostly be done away with except in rare cases. By then even if someone is put into quarantine, it should come without the bureaucracy. That is to say someone can just book a flight, get on a plane and if they are required to quarantine, there will immediately be a facility available for that purpose upon arrival.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 25

Does anyone have any idea how this might work for those of us that live in regional Australia, having to take a further domestic flight to arrive “home” for quarantining purposes, after the international arriving flight?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1196

Assuming you are arriving from a green zone and are double vaxxed, I'd expect that you have to be in hotel quarantine for a couple of days whilst your arrival test is processed and then you'd make your way to your regional home and quarantine for the remainder of the quarantine period.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 98

Capital cities too. I couldn't get a flight to Adelaide from Canada (where there are currently far fewer cases per 100,000 than in NSW) for the end of November so have to fly to Sydney (I shall be triple vaxxed by that date). As I understand the rules, I have to do 14 days hotel quarantine in Sydney, then another 14 days' quarantine at home (if I'm lucky) if granted an exemption to enter SA. I'm going by the news report of the Olympians a few weeks ago who had to do just this. Over the top.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 685

At the present time, the (first) point of arrival into Australia is technically the answer to where you do quarantine. 

I guess that will change once QLD gets it Wellcamp-based Quarantine centre established. Either that or there will be a lot of bus-drivers needed in BrisVegas. And maybe a few more ICU beds ... 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Aug 2016

Total posts 64

JJM, it is more likely that you'll be unable to fly, rather you may need to drive...but it's anyones guess what the minutae of the rules will be yet...


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2013

Total posts 25

Agreed that driving is a possibility, but when you live 1,000km from the arrival port, as I do, it’s not particularly practical. Such a rule might work in a “small” state, such as Victoria, but not where I live.

12 Feb 2013

Total posts 48

What's stopping the other states outside of NSW to insist transiting/connecting domestic passengers to do 14 day hotel quarantine or crash at some friend or relative's place in NSW before taking the domestic flight back to their home state? But it would also mean a more busy Sydney Airport if there's lots of international and then onward domestic connections.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

12 Apr 2017

Total posts 210

All the talk about setting up dedicated isolated quarantine camps made me laugh when they were first suggested. If any get built they will be another case of a complete waste of money, like most of the politicians pandemic response. 

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 32

I can't quite see what purpose quarantine will serve for fully vaccinated people. You are coming from a country with covid-19 to a country with covid-19.

Air Canada - Aeroplan

28 Feb 2015

Total posts 98

For fully vaxxed people trying to get to a state different from the one they land in, a sensible solution might be to require a Covid test on arrival (addition to the pre-travel test, of course), and remain in designated hotel quarantine until a negative test is returned (for the unvaxxed, Canada mandates three days irrespective of how long the test result takes). Then immediate transfer to the airport for a domestic flight to quarantine for another 14 days at home.

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