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Australia To Reconsider International Travel Restrictions

travel restrictions
The travel restrictions in place in Australia were expected to remain in place until late 2021 but the potential vaccination breakthrough may mean changes earlier than expected.  Interstaff set out what is being discussed.

Written by Sheila Woods of Interstaff  12 November, 2020


We were delighted to hear that a COVID-19 vaccination will be available in Australia as early as March 2021 and that international travel restrictions could be lifted sooner than anticipated.

In last month’s Federal Budget announcements, the Government indicated Australia’s international border would be closed until late 2021, based on the assumption that a COVID-19 vaccination would only be widely available at that time.

News of a vaccination breakthrough has fast-tracked the prospect of international travel and State, Territory and Commonwealth leaders will be discussing a plan to re-open Australia’s international borders at tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting.

The Government has already permitted New Zealand residents to travel to some Australian States without quarantine and is now considering how it might expand the travel bubble to other countries that have effectively controlled COVID-19.


Early Indications of Low-Risk and High-Risk Countries 

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison signalled that Australia’s international borders may remain closed to high-risk countries while talks are underway to establish travel with countries with a low risk of community transmissions.

Mr Morrison said the Government is continuing discussions to relax travel rules with ‘low-risk’ countries, particularly in Asia. He indicated that this may include:

  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Pacific Island nations
  • Taiwan
  • Provinces of China
  • Singapore

“(We) are looking at what alternative could be had to channel visitors through appropriate quarantine arrangements for low-risk countries,” Mr Morrison said.

Mr Morrison did not identify which countries could be deemed high risk, but he acknowledged the new wave of COVID-19 cases in Europe and the United States.

He stressed that no decisions had been made at this stage and that the Government would move “with caution” before opening up further. More details will be revealed after tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting.

It is encouraging that plans to ease international travel restrictions will be discussed at the National Cabinet within only a week of the COVID-19 vaccination breakthrough being announced


Re-opening Australia’s State and Territory Borders

Plans to re-open Australia’s internal borders by Christmas will also be discussed at tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting. It is positive to see many States and Territories are re-opening and keeping community transmission low.

Here’s an update on State/Territory Border border restrictions:

  • Western Australia (WA):
    • From this Saturday 14 November, interstate travel to WA will be permitted, provided that every State or Territory records a 14-day rolling average of less than 5 community virus cases per day of COVID-19.
    • Travellers from ‘Very low risk’ States and Territories (no community cases in 28 days) are not required to meet State quarantine requirements.
    • Travellers from ‘Low risk’ States and Territories (less than 5 community cases per day on a 14-day rolling average) must self-quarantine for 14 days and present for a COVID-19 test on Day 11 (if still in WA). This currently includes travellers from NSW and VIC.
    • Travellers need to apply for a ‘Good to go’ pass.
    • Regional border restrictions will be maintained for remote Aboriginal community areas.


  • Queensland (QLD):
    • As of 3 November 2020, interstate travel to QLD is permitted, except for travellers who have been to a declared COVID hot-spot in the last 14 days. Transits through COVID-19 hot-spots may be permitted and other exceptions may apply.
    • Travellers must complete a QLD Border Declaration Pass 3 days before arriving and must agree to COVID-19 tests.
    • State quarantine requirements depend on whether the traveller has been overseas or in a COVID-19 hotspot, has COVID-19 symptoms or has been in contact with someone who has COVID-19.


  • New South Wales (NSW): 
    • The NSW State border is open to travellers from all States or Territories, except anyone who has been in Victoria (VIC) in the last 14 days. Transits through VIC may be possible with a permit and other exceptions apply.
    • The border between NSW and VIC will re-open from 23 November 2020.
    • Interstate travellers to NSW must apply for a NSW Border Entry Permit.
    • State quarantine requirements apply if entering NSW from VIC.


  • Victoria (VIC): 
    • Interstate travel to VIC is permitted.
    • No permit is required and State Quarantine does not apply. However it is a condition of entry into VIC that a traveller must adhere to directions in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask in public.


  • South Australia (SA):
    • Interstate travel to SA is permitted, except travellers from VIC who must meet separate eligibility criteria to enter. State quarantine may be required for travellers from VIC.
    • Transits by flight through VIC are not permitted. Transits through VIC by car must be via approved roads.
    • Travellers must complete a Cross Border Travel Registration at least 14 days before travel.


  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT):
    • Interstate travel to ACT is permitted, except for travellers from Victoria who are granted a State Travel Exemption. These travellers will need to meet State Quarantine requirements.
    • From 23 November 2020, the ACT will re-open its border with Victoria subject to public health advice.


  • Northern Territory (NT): 
    • Interstate travel to NT is permitted.
    • A Border Entry Form must be completed no more than 7 days before arrival.
    • State quarantine is required for travellers that have recently been in an active declared COVID-19 hot spot.


  • Tasmania (TAS): 
    • Interstate travel to TAS is permitted, however risk categories apply.
    • Travellers from ‘Low risk’ areas can enter without State quarantine requirements. Currently this includes NSW, QLD, WA, SA, ACT and NT.
    • Travellers from ‘Medium-risk’ and ‘High-risk’ areas must meet State quarantine requirements, with exceptions for essential travellers. Other exceptions may apply.
    • VIC will be considered a ‘Medium-risk’ area from 13 November 2020 and a ‘Low-risk’ area from 27 November 2020.
    • Travellers to TAS need to apply for a ‘Good to go’ pass and register their details via the Tas e-Travel system.

These border restrictions are current as of 12 November 2020 and are subject to changes. 


Interstaff assist people all over the world with the legal and professional process to travel or migrate to Australia for temporary work or permanent residence. Established in 1988, Interstaff has been trusted by migrating individuals and businesses for over 30 years and are the strongest group of experts for visa work in Australia. MARN: 0533879.