Asia Pacific

Factbox: Australia prepares to reopen borders for first time during pandemic

2 minute read

People walk by the harbour in the wake of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) regulations easing, following an extended lockdown to curb an outbreak, in Sydney, Australia, October 22, 2021. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

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SYDNEY, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Australia will start lifting its outbound travel ban for fully vaccinated residents from Nov. 1 amid a strong uptake of COVID-19 vaccines, as Sydney and Melbourne, its biggest cities, prepare to welcome overseas travellers without quarantine.

Unvaccinated travellers will still be allowed entry if they agree to undergo the two-week mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

The travel arrangements, however, are not uniform across Australia, as the country's states and territories have differing vaccination rates and health policies.

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Here are some indicated dates in Australia's path to reopening borders based on current vaccination rates:

Nov. 1

** New South Wales and Victoria - home to more than half of Australia's near 26 million population - will allow quarantine-free entry to all international travellers, although citizens and permanent residents will benefit first.

** All fully-vaccinated citizens and permanent residents can leave Australia without seeking a travel exemption.

Nov. 23

** South Australia to halve quarantine period for international travellers to seven days; quarantine to end when double-dose vaccination rate in the state's population above 12 reaches 90% but no firm date given.

** Northern Territory to allow two-week home quarantine for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from virus hotspots, rather than at supervised facilities.

Dec 1

** Unvaccinated residents in New South Wales, home to Sydney, to enjoy the same level of freedom as the vaccinated - no limits on outdoor and home gatherings, while more customers will be allowed in retail stores.

Dec. 15

** Tasmania to open borders for fully vaccinated overseas travellers and residents from other states who must provide a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to travel.

Dec. 17

Queensland to allow quarantine-free entry to vaccinated residents from all states, but international arrivals may have to undergo "a period of home quarantine".

Dec. 20

Northern Territory to halve home quarantine to a week with officials planning to end quarantine by Jan. 18, 2022.

*** Western Australia, the only state without a reopening plan yet, has warned it could close its borders to other states if they allow quarantine-free entry for residents from virus-hit New South Wales and Victoria.

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Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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