Sydney’s status as a globally engaged city can be rebuilt through the establishment of shorter home quarantine periods for vaccinated international arrivals, the NSW government hopes.
The state government is banking on home quarantine to enable stranded 40,000 vaccinated Australians to be able to return home by Christmas.
And that goes for international visitors wanting to fly into Sydney too.
NSW premier Gladys Berjiklian announced on Friday a seven-day home quarantine pilot program, to start later this month.
Of the 175 vaccinated participants, 50 will be Qantas flight crew.
The pilot would deploy similar facial recognition and geolocation technology used in recent home quarantine trials in South Australia.
Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the NSW government would rapidly scale up international arrivals and reduce caps if the pilot goes to plan.
Hotel quarantine arrangements will remain for the unvaccinated.
“We want to expand the amount of people who can come back to Sydney as quickly as possible, we want international tourists coming through Sydney. This is an important step for that – we won’t hold caps a single day longer than we have to,” Mr Ayres told reporters.
“Australia must reopen. We must get rid of lockdowns, we must get rid of home quarantine, we must re-engage with the world.
“Sydney is a global city and it must engage with the globe.”
Ms Berejiklian added the pilot was “the start of a process” which in the longer term may result in the removal of quarantine obligations.
But she hoped home quarantine would help the more than 40,000 stranded Australians overseas return in time for Christmas, and enable Australians to visit family and friends overseas.
Committee for Sydney chief executive Gabriel Metcalf welcomed the plan, saying stranded Australians should be home by Christmas.
“It’s time for us to start reopening – not all at once, but step by step. We can’t stay closed forever and this is a very sensible next move,” he said.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce also declared the plan a winner, saying the airline’s flight crew – now all fully vaccinated – have spent months in hotel quarantine amid the pandemic.
“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.“
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,” he said.
Share this story