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Australians can leave the country from 1 November, restriction free

This is the news we've all been waiting for... PM Scott Morrison announced today that Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will be allowed to leave the country from the start of next month without needing any special permissions or exemptions.

This is the news we’ve all been waiting for… PM Scott Morrison announced today that Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will be allowed to leave the country from the start of next month without needing any special permissions or exemptions.

Take a deep breath and listen closely.

Speaking to the media today, Mr Morrison said that as of 1 November, an exemption to leave the country will no longer be required to leave for Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families.

And just like that, after what will have been almost 20 months of being shuttered, our outbound borders are reopening. Albeit cautiously.

What’s more, you won’t have to depart only from Sydney, but you will need to be fully vaccinated and follow the departure rules of whichever state or territory you are in including returning a negative COVID test from an approved PCR testing site 72 hours prior to departure.

Finding a flight out of anywhere overseas in November (especially outside Sydney) will also be a potentially expensive challenge as limited arrival caps and quarantine rules across states and territories will ensure that scheduled departure remain sparse.

And when you’re ready to return to Australia you will need to follow all of the cap limits and rules in each state.

Scott Morrison said he supported the NSW state government’s shock decision to end any hotel or home quarantine requirements for people who land in Sydney from November 1.

But the prime minister limited the scope to citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families despite NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet insisting tourists would be included.

Sydney

All arrivals will need to be fully vaccinated and return negative tests for COVID-19 before and after their flight.

The definition of immediate family will be expanded to include parents, rather than just partners and children

Mr Morrison denied Mr Perrottet was hasty to suggest tourists, skilled migrants and international students would be allowed to return.

“The premier understands that’s a decision for the Commonwealth government, not for the state governments,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“When we believe that is a decision to make, we will make it at that time. 

“I’m going to progress steadily but at the same time carefully and I welcome this first step. I think it’s a positive step.”

Speaking about his reaction to the news, newly appointed AFTA CEO Dean Long said “The Federal Government’s announcement to end the closed border for outbound travel for Australians is a critical decision to reconnect us to the world.

“International travel is essential for Australians who have family members and businesses abroad and will help our travel industry begin to recover.

“We look forward to receiving the details of how this will roll out practically and we are committed to working with the NSW and Federal Governments to support this. The elimination of the quarantine requirement is one of the biggest barriers to international visitors wanting to come to Australia along with airline seat caps.”

What about Australians stranded overseas being able to get home?

Airport-reunion
Airport-reunion

Arriving back into Australia, fully vaccinated Australians and their families will be the first people to benefit when NSW scraps quarantine for international arrivals on 1 November.

More than 45,000 Australians are stranded overseas with tight arrival caps and border restrictions hampering their return.

Mr Morrison said national vaccination coverage exceeding 80 per cent would allow states to follow NSW. This is estimated to happen around 10 November.

NSW will allow 210 unvaccinated international arrivals each week to undertake two weeks of quarantine.

The prime minister said he had written to leaders from other states and territories for expected caps.

Time to finally fly away

Qantas_London
Image: Qantas

Qantas has since announced it would bring forward the resumption of international flights to November 1 following the NSW decision.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Bringing forward the reopening of Australia to the world and removing quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated travellers entering New South Wales is a massive step towards life as we knew it.”

The national carrier will operate five return flights a week from Sydney to London and up to four return flights a week from Sydney to Los Angeles.

But for those who want to travel to Singapore, Fiji and Vancouver (from Sydney), they will have to wait until December 18 to depart from Sydney.

Under the national reopening plan, an 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rate was supposed to trigger a gradual reopening of international travel with “safe countries” and “proportionate quarantine”.

The national cabinet deal – based on Doherty Institute modelling – signalled reduced requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

But quarantine-free travel was only part of the final “post-vaccination” phase, which seeks to manage coronavirus in the same way as other infectious diseases.

Mr Morrison said the NSW decision was consistent with the plan.

Mr Perrottet said he had numerous discussions with the prime minister about scrapping quarantine but agreed the federal government would need to implement border measures.

“We want tourists back into the state as quickly as possible.”