An outbreak of COVID-19 in Sydney’s Northern Beaches has prompted several Australian states to issue travel bans on the city, disrupting Christmas travel plans for many residents.
Australia has used strict lockdowns and travel restrictions to largely supress transmission of the virus and state governments have been quick to act to prevent the latest outbreak in Sydney from spreading to other parts of the country. With many people planning to travel to visit family and friends over the Christmas period, the outbreak and resulting travel bans have thrown plans for the holiday into disarray.
Travel Restrictions Enacted To Contain Virus Outbreak
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 in the Northern Beaches suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, has brought an end to almost two weeks with no local transmission of the virus in Australia and prompted a wave of new travel restrictions across the country. So far, 95 cases have been linked to the outbreak, all of which have been discovered within the Northern Beaches area.
Nevertheless, Australia’s state governments have reacted quickly in an attempt to contain the outbreak, issuing a range of travel restrictions and other measures such as requiring Sydney residents to quarantine on arrival, and creating chaos in Christmas travel plans in the days before the holiday begins. The new measures were announced over the weekend, with most coming into effect on Monday December 21, giving travelers little time to rearrange travel plans. We have detailed the measures affecting travelers in each state below.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
The authorities in Australia’s capital issued a strong statement requesting that residents of Sydney do not travel there over the Christmas period, with the Health Department saying “If you are not an ACT resident and have been in greater Sydney…our message is simple: do not travel to the ACT”. Anyone returning from Sydney to Canberra will have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival.
All arrivals from Sydney are temporarily banned from Monday December 21. All state residents returning from the city after Monday must enter mandatory supervised quarantine for 14 days on arrival at a cost of AUS$2,500.
Arrivals from Sydney are temporarily banned from Monday December 21. All Queensland state residents returning from the city after Monday must quarantine for 14 days on arrival. Police checkpoints will be erected at the border with New South Wales to help enforce the new travel restrictions.
All arrivals from the Northern Beaches area are temporarily banned from Monday December 21. Anyone arriving from the Greater Sydney Region must self-isolate for 14 days and get tested on the first, fifth and 12th days after arrival.
All arrivals from Northern Beaches are temporarily banned from Monday December 21. Anyone travelling from the Greater Sydney Region after Monday must quarantine for 14 days on arrival.
All arrivals from Sydney are temporarily banned from Monday December 21, including residents of Victoria. Checkpoints have been established on the border with New South Wales to ensure compliance with the new travel rules.
All arrivals from New South Wales are temporarily banned from Monday December 21, with very few exceptions. Returning residents of Western Australia may be allowed entry with a 14-day quarantine period.
Australia Doing Well But International Travel Unlikely To Return Soon
Notwithstanding the new outbreak in Sydney, Australia has done well in containing the spread of COVID-19 compared to other countries, with lower case numbers and deaths from the virus than many other places. A combination of strict lockdowns, internal travel restrictions, closed national borders and rapid contact tracing have significantly reduced case numbers in the country, at the expense of severely limiting travel both within Australia and abroad.
Australia remains unlikely to fully reopen to international tourism anytime soon, with much of the world currently suffering further waves of the virus with much higher case loads than Australia. Both the federal government and the national flag carrier, Qantas, have even suggested that in the future tourists to the country will be required to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to gain entry.
While it remains to be seen if this demand will materialise, with many questioning the practicality of the vaccination requirement, international travel to Australia is likely to remain difficult over coming months. One bright spot is the potential opening of a ‘travel bubble’ between Australia and New Zealand, which would see residents of the two countries, which have both significantly reduced their COVID case numbers, able to travel freely between them.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories