Australia is days away from a major milestone and if all goes to plan, state border restrictions will be almost completely eliminated by the weekend,marking the first time the country has been open for months.
But there are a few rules, catches, forms and exemptions to be aware of, along with warnings and promises that any outbreak will immediately see new closures and rules put in place.
South Australians face the toughest restrictions with Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, the ACT and the Northern Territory closing their borders, but there is hope on the horizon.
So hold tight, keep your fingers crossed and pack those bags.
RELATED: WA border opens to NSW and Victoria
RELATED: Annastacia Palaszczuk makes Qld/ NSW border decision
Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan announced on Sunday the opening of his state border with NSW and Victoria that came into force overnight.
As of 12.01am on Tuesday, residents from Victoria and NSW will be able to enter WA without having to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days.
These states will join the ACT, Queensland, Northern Territory and Tasmania, as “very low risk” jurisdictions, he said.
Travellers from ACT, NT, QLD and TAS will not be required to quarantine while those from NSW and VIC will need to self-quarantine for 14 days in a “suitable premise” until December 8. NSW and Victoria travellers are also required to be present for a COVID-19 test on Day 11.
“When the risk from these states is considered ‘very low’ by the chief health officer or when they have not had community cases of COVID-19 in the past 28 days, easing of the restrictions on these states will be considered,” the WA government has stated.
All travellers need is to complete a mandatory G2G PASS registration and declaration process (which will require them to make a declaration of where they have been) and be able to provide proof that they have completed that at the point of entry.
There will also be procedures in place for health screening of all travellers, including temperature checks at Perth Airport.
Though Mr McGowan has warned despite the reopening to NSW and Victoria, a COVID-19 outbreak could close the borders again “in a heartbeat”.
South Australia is currently classified as a “medium risk” state and is not yet permitted into WA without an exemption, but the border is expected to be opened on Friday after it moves to the “low risk” category, “pending no subsequent outbreaks in that state”.
RELATED: Delays to come as Qld border finally opens to NSW
Queensland will open its border to visitors from South Australia at 1am on Saturday after opening to NSW and Victoria last week.There are no COVID-19 hot spots in New South Wales or Victoria.
This means that anyone can now enter Queensland – but there’s one catch.
If you have been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days, or overseas and didn’t fly into Queensland when you arrived in Australia, you are required to submit a Queensland Border Declaration Pass. But there are some exemptions.
“If you have been in a hotspot within the last 14 days, you are no longer able to quarantine in Queensland and will be turned away at our border – unless you are exempt under the definitions within the Border Direction,” according to the state government.
Though similarly to Mr McGowan, Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeanette Young warned the border reopening with South Australia could change and was subject to what happens in the Parafield outbreak in Adelaide over the next few days.
“If there are no additional cases between now and Saturday morning that are unable to be linked to that outbreak, then Queensland will no longer require quarantine of anyone travelling from those 20 local government authority areas,” she said.
“If there are any unlinked cases, and again we saw a risk from the cluster, then yes that could change.”
Victorians had not been able to enter Queensland since March 25, while Sydney residents had been barred since August 8. Greater Sydney is no longer considered a COVID-19 hotspot.
December 1 marked the 250th day since Queensland’s borders were fully open, with police no longer required at the border from 1am.
Queensland has since launched a major tourism campaign and is expected to reach more than eight million visitors from NSW and Victoria.
After nine months, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told NSW and Victoria “we want you”.
“It’s only thanks to the way Queenslanders managed this health crisis that we’re now in a strong position – and able to welcome back tourists for Christmas,” she said.
Travellers to Tasmania need to provide their contact and travel details before entering the state.
ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, VIC, WA are considered “low risk” but Tasmania is still restricting travel for people who have been at certain locations in Adelaide on specific dates.
Travellers from these areas are required to register their travel via the Tas e-Travel system. This must be done “no more” than three days before arrival.
Travellers from low-risk areas may transit directly through medium risk areas on their way directly to Tasmania if they comply with certain criteria
According to the state government, the only exception to this is where a traveller has spent time in a high-risk location within SA and must quarantine in government-designated accommodation at their own cost. You can find those locations here. You can apply for an exemption through Tasmania’s G2G pass.
NEW SOUTH WALES
There are no border restrictions in place in NSW, including for residents in Victoria.
There is also no requirement that NSW residents returning from Victoria quarantine when they arrive back home.
The border between New South Wales and Victoria reopened on November 22 as each state celebrated weeks without any local cases of COVID-19.
“Victorian and NSW residents’ efforts have ensured families and friends will be back together and businesses will operate freely but in a COVID-safe way,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at the time.
The closure began on July 8 when Victoria’s second wave of triple-figure daily infections started to take hold. Only those with valid entry permits or authorisation could enter.
If you have been in South Australia in the last 14 days, you’re required to complete an NSW entry declaration form.
Travellers across Australia are free to enter Victoria after beating its crippling second wave – with the exemption of South Australian residents who are required to fill out a Victorian Border Crossing Permit.
People who have visited a “high risk exposure site” in South Australia will not be allowed in unless a special exemption is granted by the chief health officer. Those are described as “red zones”.
If you have travelled within a “green” or “orange” zone, you may apply for a permit. You can find information on those here.
Exemptions are fairly strict, including, providing or receiving emergency medical care, providing or receiving emergency services (Fire, Police, State Emergency Services) or if you reside on a property that extends across both South Australia and Victoria.
“The Victorian Government will continue to monitor the situation in South Australia and will continue to be guided by the health advice,” says the state government.
Anyone can travel to SA but you must complete a Cross Border Travel Registration. Travellers will be notified within three days and given a unique number that will need to be produced when crossing the border.
All people travelling to the Northern Territory must complete a border entry form.
The state government advises travellers to “cancel your plans” if you have travelled to an identified active coronavirus hot spot in the last 28 days but these travellers can undertake 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine at the Howard Springs quarantine facility at their own cost that amounts to $2500. All quarantine facilities are also alcohol-free.
People in supervised quarantine will be subject to testing before exiting quarantine. If you refuse a test, there will be 10 days added to your quarantine time. Further penalties for misleading information are fines of $5056 for an individual or a three-year prison term. You can find inactive declared hot spots here.
ACT is open to travellers but any one coming from South Australia must complete an online declaration form prior to entry.
“ACT Health continues to monitor the situation in South Australia,” a statement from the ACT government says.