Australia’s most populous state has said it will end hotel quarantine for vaccinated international travellers as the government accelerates the lifting of pandemic restrictions.
New South Wales (NSW) State Premier Dominic Perrottet announced on Friday that fully vaccinated travellers who tested negative to Covid-19 before flying to Sydney would be spared 14 days in hotel quarantine from November 1.
The major relaxation of the state’s pandemic restrictions was announced four days after Sydney came out of a 106-day lockdown.
“We can’t live here in a hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up and this decision today is a big one, but it is the right one to get New South Wales connected globally,” Mr Perrottet said.
“It’s going to be great for our tourism industry, it’s going to be great for tourist operators.”
The federal government announced two weeks ago that vaccinated Australians would be free to travel overseas from November for the first time since March last year.
New South Wales would become the first state to open because it would be the first to reach the benchmark of 80% of the population aged 16 and older becoming fully vaccinated.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has yet to say when tourists will be welcomed back to Australia, but has ruled out this year.
After Australian permanent residents and citizens, skilled migrants and students would be given priority over international tourists, he said.
Limits on hotel rooms available for quarantine have been a major barrier for Australians who want to come home.
It is unclear whether returning Australians will be able to avoid hotel quarantine in other states by landing in Sydney then catching domestic flights across state lines.