Australia’s airlines have responded confidently to the easing of state border restrictions announced on Wednesday, swiftly adding tens of thousands of flights to get the country flying before Christmas.
Among the hustle and bustle of the US election, Australia made some strides forward in opening up the country once more, most notably, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state will open to Victoria on November 23.
“Very proudly I say NSW will be the only jurisdiction in Australia that will be welcoming residents of all states, of all jurisdictions,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters shortly after first tweeting the open date.
The reinvigorated Virgin airlines said hours later it would resume four return services a day between Sydney and Melbourne, with the aim to offer 20,000 seats a week on the route in the lead up to Christmas.
Qantas announced it and Jetstar would amp up flights to operate 250-plus flights between centres in the two key states, from November 23. If the demand is there, they will add even more flights.
Meanwhile, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce slammed the Queensland government for keeping its borders shut to Sydney.
Queensland has somewhat reluctantly lowered the fence so some NSW residents can leap over, but Sydneysiders remain outlawed.
On Monday, 23 November – the NSW/Victoria border will reopen. We need to keep moving forward as we live with COVID-19. I have confidence that everyone will continue to work hard to keep everyone safe.
— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) November 4, 2020
“This is ridiculous. Australia will be living with this virus for a long time and Sydney is probably a world leader in managing it,” Mr Joyce told business leaders.
“We were ready to add over 1000 flights between Sydney and Queensland for the month of November, but this remains on hold due to a policy that makes no sense.”
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she won’t be swayed to open her state to Victorians early, either.
She’ll review the health evidence and advice at the end of November before making a decision.
“(Let’s) take one step at a time and let’s just see how that community transmission transpires now as Victoria comes out of lockdown. I think that’s really, really crucial,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
South Australia and Tasmania are inching forward, too – the former allowing in some Victorians; the latter preparing to welcome visitors from NSW.
Stoic Western Australia has hinted it might begin to budge on November, while the Northern Territory is welcoming anyone except Melburnians.
Confused? Fair enough. Here’s a quick look at each state’s individual border restrictions
New South Wales
Now open to: All states, providing you haven’t been in Victoria (apart from transiting through) in the past 14 days. But if you’re within the NSW-Victoria border bubble, you can enter with a permit.
Opening soon: From November 23, there will be free movement between NSW and all of Victoria.
Christmas visit hopes: Pretty good, it’s more on how the other states will allow travel.
(The ACT is allowing visitors from all states except Victoria.)
Now open to: All states except Victoria and parts of NSW (anywhere that’s deemed a ‘hotspot’ by Queensland state authorities).
Opening soon: We won’t get word on if Victorians or Sydneysiders will be allowed to enter, until the end of the month.
Christmas visit hopes: As long as Sydney and Victoria keep their cases low, there’s a good chance of a Sunshine State December 25.
Victoria remains under its own movement restrictions, with the famed ‘ring of steel’ in place around metro Melbourne until November 8.
Entry to Victoria is more dependent on if a person’s origin state will allow them back in.
Christmas visit hopes hinge on which state you want to go to.
Now open to: All states, except Victoria, unless they live within 70 kilometres of the border.
Opening soon: SA Premier Steven Marshall earlier this week flagged relaxing border rules so Victorians can enter the state as long as they quarantine in a private residence for two weeks.
Christmas visit hopes: Mr Marshall says the state is feeling confident about opening to Victoria by Christmas.
Now open to: Everyone except Victoria (restrictions for NSW drop on Friday).
Opening soon: All going well, Victorians will be welcome in the Apple Isle from December 1.
Christmas visit hopes: Looking good.
Now open to: No one.
Opening soon: Everyone! But sensibly. The WA government this week said from November 14, it will open its borders, providing all states and territories have recorded a 14-day rolling average of less than five community cases per day. That means any positive cases from international arrivals won’t count against the border opening.
Christmas visit hopes: Cautiously optimistic.
Now open to: Everywhere except metro Melbourne.
Opening soon: Metro Melbourne, date unknown.
Christmas visit hopes: Again, cautiously optimistic.
- This is intended as a guide only– check with each individual state’s government before travel to see if permits are required or restrictions have changed