The ticket to freedom many Australians have been dreaming of will be available from Tuesday with the release of vaccine certificates for international travel.
In what the Federal Government said could be a world-first to go live, the digital certificate (which can also be printed) will provide international proof of vaccine status.
It follows the Prime Minister earlier this month announcing Australia’s international travel restrictions would start to ease from early November for the fully vaccinated.
However so far NSW is the only state that has decided to end quarantine requirements for people landing in Sydney from November 1. Other states would need to exceed 80 per cent double dose coverage to follow.
Employment Minister Stuart Robert on Sunday said some overseas countries may require evidence from travelling Australians that they were fully immunised.
“You may not have to use it — there may be many countries you’ll visit that have no requirement to demonstrate you’ve been vaccinated,” said Mr Robert.
“But the last thing the government wants for Australians when they travel overseas is to be stuck overseas because they can’t prove they’ve been vaccinated.”
The proof will be available to Australian passport holders and Australian visa holders who have their COVID-19 vaccinations recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.
“The international proof of vaccination features a secure QR code to prove COVID-19 vaccination status to border authorities around the world and increases a person’s ability to travel safely and with confidence,” government ministers announced in a joint statement.
The proof will enable fully vaccinated Australians to depart Australia and travel internationally consistent with the National Plan to transition Australia’s COVID-19 Response.
It can be downloaded digitally or in printed form and is compatible with COVID-19 travel apps such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Travel Pass.
The ministers said the Visible Digital Seal technology within the international proof of vaccination was world-leading and as secure as an Australian passport.
“The international certificate meets the new global standard specified by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and conforms with World Health Organisation guidance,” their statement said.
“The launch of the international proof of vaccination is a key step towards safely reopening international borders and supporting Australia’s COVID-19 economic recovery.”
Mr Robert said Australia was leading the way.
“We will be, I think, the first jurisdiction in the world that will go live with this, having worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization, as they put these standards together in May this year,” he said.
Applicants can get the free international certificate by using their Medicare account through myGov, or the Medicare Express app.
Victoria’s lockdown countdown
Victoria has only four more sleeps under lockdown after Premier Daniel Andrews announced the road to reopening would be accelerated because of a faster vaccine uptake.
The state will end more than two months of lockdown five days early, with restrictions easing from 11.59pm on Thursday when people will be allowed to leave home and the curfew will end.
Up to 10 visitors will be allowed in a home per day, but retail and gyms in metropolitan Melbourne will remain closed.
Hairdressing and beauty salons will be able to open for up to five fully vaccinated people at a time.
Pubs, clubs and entertainment venues will be able to open to 20 fully vaccinated customers indoors, and 50 doubled-dosed people outdoors.
Changes will also be made to isolation orders, with fully vaccinated people who are identified as a primary close contact of a confirmed case they don’t live with having to quarantine for seven days rather than 14.
They will need to return negative test results on their first and sixth day of quarantine.
Household and unvaccinated primary close contacts will still be required to isolate for 14 days.
News of the fast-tracked relaxation came after Victoria recorded 1838 COVID-19 cases and seven deaths on Sunday.
Restrictions will ease further when 80 per cent of the eligible population has received both vaccine doses, originally projected to be November 5.
“Today is a day where every Victorian should be proud,” Mr Andrews told reporters on Sunday.
“To be only a couple of weeks behind NSW when we know just how much extra vaccine went there is a credit to all Victorians.”
NSW rules ease further
Vaccinated people in NSW have more freedom from lockdown restrictions on Monday after the state passed its 80 per cent vaccination target earlier than expected.
The state’s hotspot status has also been dropped which happens automatically once the 80 per cent jab rate has been reached.
NSW hit the full vaccination target a week early, and 91.9 per cent of people aged 16 and over have now received at least one dose.
A week after lockdown ended, people in NSW who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are from Monday able to play community sport and have a dance at the pub, and are allowed to do it with larger groups of people.
Students in grade 12 and grade one, as well as preschoolers, will also return to classrooms, ahead of other grades that are due to return next week.
Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 fully vaccinated people are now permitted, and up to 20 visitors are allowed in a home, provided everyone over the age of 16 is vaccinated.
Citizens can once again stand up while drinking and even have a dance in most hospitality venues, but not yet nightclubs, which are allowed to reopen so long as people sit down while they drink and don’t dance.
A 100-person cap on weddings and funerals has been lifted.
A five-person cap at hairdressers and beauticians is now gone too.
Office workers are no longer required to wear masks at work, but they’re still required in other indoor areas such as on public transport or in a retail shop.
Mr Perrottet said his state had “a bright summer ahead” but that “this is not going to be an easy time”.
“As we know, as we open up, cases will increase. Hospitalisations will increase … I am confident that as a state we will come together and get through it,” he said.
The lifting of restrictions only applies to people who have been fully vaccinated at this stage, but will be expanded to everyone in December.
On Sunday, NSW recorded another 301 cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths.