It’s a moment many Australians have been waiting for. The international borders are set to open, with dates and flight routes slated for November of 2021. Not surprisingly, flying is going to look a little different to what it once was. But what can we expect from international borders open for Australians, and will all states and individuals have the same rights and rules?
Are international borders open to all Australians?
Internation borders are open to Australians who are fully vaccinated, which means that they must have both COVID-19 jabs. Australians who are not vaccinated or only have received one jab will be denied entry to fly, and so proof must be provided when booking and checking in for international flights. Prime Minister Scott Morrisson has said that those who cannot be vaccinated due to age (under 12) or medical reasons will be treated as vaccinated individuals for the sake of travel.
The Australian international borders will open after 18 months of being closed, and the 14-day hotel quarantine will be replaced with a home quarantine system. This makes travelling for work and pleasure possible once again, and is said to be opening up before Christmas and as soon as November.
Most notably, the opening of the Australian borders will allow citizens who have been grounded in other countries to return home and reunite with their families. These circumstances will take precedence and likely be on some of the first flights headed to and from Australian airports.
Will the flight paths change when international borders open in Australia?
Australia has seen some of the hardest lockdowns (especially Victoria), and so most countries will be open and accessible to travellers. Standard flight paths like Qantas’ Sydney to London flight with a stopover in Singapore will be replaced with a stopover in Darwin instead. This decision, and many like it, has been made to minimise unnecessary exposure and also work within the guidelines set out by other countries.
Last year there was a push to get the borders open, but this didn’t include international borders opening up to Australians. According to CNN, there were 39,000 Australian residents who could not make it home to Australia for the holiday. With the Cabinet pivoting away from a COVID-19 free plan to a ‘living with COVID-19’ plan, international travel was a high priority on the list of things that needed to return.
What about domestic travel in Australia opening up?
With states opening up as they continue to hit vaccination targets, Qantas has commented that domestic travel will be open by November. States like Queensland and Western Australia have been famously rigid in their border restriction stance, especially given that their populations have been largely unaffected by the pandemic. Qantas has commented that if they do not support domestic borders opening to all states, then they may not have access to the states that are unaffected. This means that those who are hoping to travel from Melbourne to Perth or vice versa may have to wait for further developments in the new year.