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Arrival Revival: Time to make travel easier as borders reopen, Dan Tehan

As more states and territories move to relax border rules, the federal tourism minister Dan Tehan says he wants to simplify domestic travel for all Australians.

As more states and territories move to relax border rules, the federal tourism minister Dan Tehan says he wants to simplify domestic travel for all Australians.

South Australia has today become the latest COVID-19-free jurisdiction to reopen to the ACT, NSW and Victoria.

Flights to South Australia from eastern states heavily impacted by the virus resumed on Tuesday, while about 30,000 applications to cross the border have already been submitted.

While some states have instituted border passes or mandatory nose and throat swabs as an entry requirement, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan says cross-border travel arrangements need to be simple.

“In the end, we want Australians to travel within Australia like they used to,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.

“We want to be able to limit these new requirements that have been put in place, and the more seamless we can make travel, the better.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says states such as Queensland are going it alone by requiring fully vaccinated travellers to get a PCR test to enter the state and urged the government to reconsider the plan.

PCR tests can cost up to $150 at private laboratories, and it’s unclear if people will be able to get free tests at state-run clinics for travel purposes.

Mr Hunt says hotspots are declared by the Commonwealth, not the states, and declarations are automatically repealed on jurisdictions that reach 80 per cent vaccination coverage.

Coffin Bay Oyster Farm ©South Australian Tourism Commission
Coffin Bay Oyster Farm Image: South Australian Tourism Commission

While South Australia is yet to hit 80 per cent of over 16s fully vaccinated, infectious diseases expert Professor Robert Booy said the state was close enough to the milestone for travel to be safe.

“When people are coming in from a place, even if they are double vaccinated, where there is transmission, they will have to test before and after,” the University of Sydney professor told the Seven Network.

“So I think there are a number of extra precautions they are taking, it’s not willy-nilly, (SA is) really thinking it through, so I’m not worried about them.”

Mr Tehan said international travel was set to expand, following the government allowing visa holders to return to Australia.

From December 1, international students, skilled workers and humanitarian visa holders can come to Australia from overseas without needing to apply for a travel exemption.

Tourists from Japan and South Korea will also be able to travel, following a similar travel arrangement with Singapore.

“These will help to fill gaps in our economy,” Mr Tehan said.

“We always said this would be a very systematic and planned reopening and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

Via AAP