NSW will dump hotel quarantine for overseas arrivals within weeks as it closes in on 80 per cent of over-16s fully vaccinated against COVID.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said the change would apply to fully vaccinated international travellers, who will also require pre-departure negative COVID tests.
“For double vaccinated people around the world, Sydney, NSW is open for business. We want people back. We are leading the nation out of the pandemic,” he said on Friday.
“Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and NSW to the world, and that date will come in on November 1st.”
NSW is the first state in the country, working with the Commonwealth, to announce it will open up to overseas travellers and scrap quarantine rules. It will be the first time since March 2020 that some form of quarantine has not been required for arrivals into Australia.
Mr Perrottet said it was a “big decision, but the right one”.
Unvaccinated travellers will still have to complete 14 days’ quarantine, although places for them will be capped at 210.
NSW had another 399 local virus infections in Friday, and one in a returned traveller.
There were also four more deaths, with the virus toll for the state since mid-June hitting 454. They were two women and two men, aged in their 50s, 70s and 80s, and all from Sydney.
Vaccination rates continue to climb, with 77.8 per cent of NSW residents aged over 16 fully vaccinated. The is state expected to reach the 80 per cent threshold at the weekend.
But the state government has decided to delay travel between Sydney and regional NSW – where vaccination rates lag the state average – until November 1.
“The reason we have made that decision is based on vaccination rates in front of us. If you look at where a percentage of LGAs have reached that 80 per cent double-dose here in Sydney – that is where regional NSW will be on November 1,” Mr Perrottet said.
State Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the delay was intended to protect regional communities.
“It’s not that the vaccine uptake in regional NSW has been slow,” he said.
“It’s been exceptional and what we have seen is a really quick uptake of second dose vaccines in Sydney and that’s meant that the gap between Sydney and regional NSW has got larger. So what we have done is adjust our road map to reflect the vaccination rates.”
NSW hitting the 80 per cent mark at the weekend will trigger the return of more freedoms for residents from Monday.
They include increasing the number of visitors to homes to 20 and raising the cap on outdoor gatherings to 50. Pub patrons will also be able to stand up to drink, and there will be no limits on numbers at weddings and funerals.