Families and friends will be reunited as Aussies start arriving home in time for Christmas, with NSW reaching the November 1 roadmap milestone and restrictions further eased for the double-vaccinated.
From today, fully vaccinated residents can travel for holidays and recreation between Greater Sydney and regional NSW, bookings for hospitality venues are no longer capped and fully vaccinated travellers from overseas can enter NSW without having to quarantine, subject to Commonwealth border restrictions.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said November could not start in a more positive way with families and friends reuniting after so long apart.
“Today is a day many people have been waiting for and our high vaccination rates have allowed us to re-open in a safe and considered way,” Mr Perrottet said.
“Families and friends across NSW can now get together as well look forward to welcoming back home Australians who have been overseas trying to get home.”
The NSW Government has removed quarantine requirements and caps for overseas arrivals who the Commonwealth Government recognises as fully vaccinated with a TGA-approved vaccine. Fully vaccinated travellers already in quarantine will also complete their quarantine requirements on November 1, even if it is less than 14 days.
Overseas travellers who are not fully vaccinated must undergo managed 14-day hotel quarantine, and the cap will remain at 210 people per week.
Parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents can also travel to Australia from today, with applications made through the Department of Home Affairs Travel Exemption Portal.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole said the easing of travel restrictions between Regional NSW and Greater Sydney would provide a huge boost to the state.
“Today is a great day for regional NSW. I know Sydneysiders are busting to head to the bush and we can’t wait to welcome them back with open arms and for families and friends to get the chance to reunite,” Mr Toole said.
“Around 82 per cent of the population in regional NSW has now been fully vaccinated – this an exceptional result and I want to thank every single person who has rolled up their sleeves so travel can resume and businesses can start to bounce back.”
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said it was time for Sydney to regain its title as the gateway to the nation with Australians coming home in time for Christmas.
“NSW is again open for business. People can come together in a safe way whether it be returning home from overseas or getting together for an end-of-year gathering at your favourite venue,” Mr Ayres said.
More than $530 million has been invested in reviving events across the state and getting tourism back on track as part of the NSW Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW was leading Australia out of the pandemic, with the state close to now reaching the 90 per cent double-dose vaccination rate.
“The people of NSW can be proud of our vaccination rate, and there’s no reason we can’t reach 95 per cent double-dose vaccination to help ensure we get on top of this pandemic,” Mr Hazzard said.
“NSW can be one of the highest vaccinated jurisdictions in the world.”
NSW residents across the state will still need to comply with COVID-Safe check-ins and provide proof of vaccination to staff in most settings.
Meanwhile, there’s reports today that the State Government is considering dumping the December 1 freedom date for the unvaccinated and instead switching to a target of 95 per cent double dose.
This would likely mean unvaccinated people could not enjoy the same freedoms as those who are vaccinated until mid-December, or later.
Troy Dodds is the Weekender’s Managing Editor and Senior Writer. He has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working with some of Australia’s leading media organisations.