Vaccinated Australian travellers and the parents of residents will be able to visit Sydney from November without the need to quarantine.
The move announced by the New South Wales state government at first indicated that tourists and foreign travellers could also freely enter.
But Prime Minister Scott Morrison later quashed that idea.
Australia’s borders have effectively been closed since March 2020, making it difficult even for citizens to enter.
He said, “We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment.” He said priority would be given to Australians and family members, after which the nation would then consider migrants, those with work and study visas and the “challenge” of tourists.
Prime Minister Morrison said, “We will move forward in a staged way as we have done in all these things. It is for the Commonwealth and federal government to decide when the border opens and shuts at an international level.”
Australia has kept its international borders shut since March 2020. It has allowed entry almost exclusively to citizens and permanent residents who have had to do mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine at their own cost.
But today PM Morrison confirmed that NSW’s high level of vaccination – nearly 80% fully dosed for the eligible over-12 population – meant it could remove the quarantine requirement.
Canberra had indicated last month that Australia’s strict entry rules would loosen in November to allow Australians to leave and re-enter the country.
He said extending those rights to the parents of Australians – even if they’re foreign nationals- would allow Australians to be reunited with their families overseas.
Earlier today, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, the leader of Australia’s most populous state, had declared that Sydney would be “reopening to the world” and all vaccinated international travellers.
He said, “From 1 November, returning Australians, tourists who want to visit Australia come into Sydney – hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past.”
But this was not granted by the federal government – which is in charge of visas and entries into Australia.
State authorities were yet to clarify the policy error today.