Plans to reopen Australia’s internal and international borders are accelerating, with the country on the cusp of a 70 per cent full vaccination threshold.
The Queensland government has announced its borders will open in time for Christmas regardless of whether the state has double-dosed 80 per cent of residents aged 16 and older.
Fully vaccinated people will be able to enter Victoria from “red zones” from Wednesday without quarantining for two weeks as long as they return a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before arriving.
Quarantine-free travel is also slated to resume between NSW, Victoria and New Zealand’s South Island from Wednesday.
Passengers arriving in Australia must be fully vaccinated, unless they are younger than 12 or have a medical exemption, and return a negative test no more than 72 hours before departure.
The federal government has been in discussions with Singapore about a possible “green lane” travel bubble between the two nations.
Certificates with a QR code to prove vaccination status can now be downloaded digitally or printed ahead of the resumption of international travel.
From next month, fully vaccinated returning Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will be able to come to NSW without quarantining.
Victoria has ruled out following Sydney’s move, but indicated the two-week quarantine requirement will be reduced.
It recorded 1903 infections and seven deaths on Monday, four days out from the end of Melbourne’s lockdown.
Nearly 67 per cent of Victorians aged 16 and older are double-dosed.
NSW, which has a full vaccination rate of more than 80 per cent, recorded 265 new cases and five additional deaths.
Canberra recorded 17 more infections. Its single-dose rate exceeds 95 per cent, while 80.7 people have been fully vaccinated.
Queensland plans to reopen to NSW and Victoria when it reaches 70 per cent full vaccination.
Quarantine requirements will be scrapped at 80 per cent, which is slated to occur a week out from Christmas.
But the state government has pledged this will happen in time for Christmas even if that threshold isn’t reached.
Trade and Tourism Minister Dan Tehan maintains returning Australians will be at the front of the queue when borders reopen.
But he is optimistic about the possible return of tourists, international students, working holiday visa holders as well as workers from the Pacific region before Christmas.