Australia plans to open the international border earlier than expected.
The vaccine passports are almost ready and the international border is expected to open from December. Qantas and Fiji Airlines say they’re ready to fly as soon as they get the green light. But where can Australians actually go?
First a warning: Anyone planning to grab their passport and book the first flight out of Australia will need to check the rules with the airline and the nation they plan to visit. Many nations and airlines will require proof of vaccination and multiple PCR tests. We’ve listed the current requirements below, but they do change regularly.
Air Canada has created a handy world travel hub. Under the entry requirements tab, enter the passport you plan to travel on, your vaccination status and it displays a colour-coded world map with the rules for every nation. The travel hub is updated as the rules for each destination change.
Speaking in Washington earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said an announcement on Australia’s borders was imminent.
“We will see our international borders, particularly for Australians to leave and return and Australians who are overseas and have been vaccinated to return, and that will occur before the end of the year,’’ he said.
“It could happen well before that.”
The good news for anyone desperate for international travel from Australia to start is that we CAN tell you the countries most likely to open up first.
More than 80 per cent of Singapore’s population is fully vaccinated. Singapore Airlines has continued to operate flights to Australia on a limited schedule. A representative of the airline told Signature Luxury Travel & Style it would “ramp up” flights as soon as the border opens. Note that Australia’s biosecurity laws restricting overseas travel end on December 17.
Qantas plans daily flights to Singapore – mostly on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from December 20 and the airline has said that it will reopen its Singapore Lounge.
In the past few weeks, Singapore authorities have announced several travel restrictions to help curb a surge in Covid-19 cases. Under the new rules, Singaporeans must work from home if they can and only two people can meet in restaurants and other social settings.
Canada threw open the doors to fully vaccinated foreign nationals on September 7. The North American nation now has 81 per cent of people 12+ fully vaccinated and 70 per cent of the total population.
To get to Canada, Australians will need to prove their vaccination status and undertake a COVID-19 PCR test no more than 72 hours before their scheduled flight. Canada will select travellers for random COVID-19 screening on arrival.
We do not know whether children under 12, who can not be vaccinated will be allowed an exemption.
Fully-vaccinated flyers can book their seats for a trip to Vancouver on Air Canada from December 17 and on Qantas from December 18.
Fiji Airways said it would restart flights from Australia in December. The island nation is on track to have the entire working population fully vaccinated by November.
Fiji has not yet confirmed the rules for flying or entry to the island. So you will have to watch this space if you’re keen for an island break.
Virgin Australia has flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Nadi from December 23 and Melbourne to Nadi from December 24. Qantas will resume flights to Fiji from December 19.
Japan plans to lift the state of emergency, which bans foreign arrivals, at the end of September. But watch this space, because the date has already been pushed back by two weeks.
To travel to Japan, Australians will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test signed by a doctor. You will also need to fill out an online declaration and a mandatory questionnaire, undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival and self-isolate/quarantine for 14 days.
Qantas has flights from Sydney to Tokyo from December 19.
Qantas plans to operate four flights each week. On Skyscanner, Sydney to Tokyo flight prices dramatically drop from December 1, which is a good indication that flights will return.
Japan has currently vaccinated 63 per cent of the population.
New Caledonia’s border will remain shut until December 31.
Qantas flights from Sydney to London will run three times a week from 14 November 2021. This follows the Federal Government’s announcement that Australia’s borders will open in November.
Qantas will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service, most likely through Darwin, until at least April 2022 due to the latest WA border settings and assumptions.
Australians can also fly Singapore Airlines or Qatar airlines through to Europe.
Scotland and Wales have vaccinated 92 per cent of those aged 16 and over with at least one dose. England has vaccinated 89 per cent and Northern Ireland 87 per cent.
To enter the UK, vaccinated travellers will not need to provide proof of a negative test before arrival. However, you may need one to board the flight and you will need one on arrival.
If you plan to travel to the UK, check the quarantine rules. The UK lists 53 nations as high risk, if you have been in any of the nations listed 10 days before your arrival into the UK, you will need to quarantine. If not, you’re free to leave the airport and enjoy your holiday.
Despite the fact the USA still has crazy levels of COVID-19, it is on the list of nations that Australia plans to open up to first.
Qantas has flights to Los Angeles ready to go 14 November three times a week. It plans to start flying to Dallas Texas on February 14, 2022, and San Francisco on February 16.
Few US states have hit the 70 per cent double dose mark despite having the greatest access to vaccinations in the world. The USA does not currently require proof of vaccination to travel. However, you will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before your flight.
Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand and South Africa
Qantas will restart flights to Jakarta, Denpasar Manila, Bangkok and Johannesburg from Sunday, March 27, 2022.
Virgin Australia has said that it plans to restart Bali flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on March 27.
What about quarantine?
Since March 2020, Australians who returned home from overseas were required to undertake 14 days of hotel quarantine.
National Cabinet will meet on Friday and the introduction of a 7-day home quarantine program is on the agenda.
Both NSW and South Australia are currently trialling home quarantine for vaccinated travellers.
On Tuesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the hotel quarantine system was “past its use-by date”.
“If you’re fully vaccinated with a vaccine our authorities deem to be effective and safe, you’ll be able to quarantine at home,” she told ABC Breakfast.
Anyone considering overseas travel should definitely consider travel insurance. Check the fine print to ensure you are covered for COVID.