Houston College of Education Information and Career Counselling

Changes in Australian travel rules and regulations due to Omicron variant

After a long struggle with COVID-19 Australia only recently announced the reopening of its borders for travelers and international students but unfortunately, emerging concerns about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has forced the government to enact a few new regulations. 

The Australian Government has been analyzing the situation carefully and has stated its desire to continue with its plans to reopen its borders for international students on December 15, 2021. The prime minister, Scott Morrison said “We’re not going back to lockdowns, none of us want that.” and the Federal Minister of Health, Greg Hunt assured the current plans will be followed by saying “All of this is done on the presumption that we will recommence from December 15, but medical advice will guide our decision-making throughout.”

Various states and territories have taken different measures to combat the new variant. Almost every state and territory requires students and visitors to fill up entry forms almost a week prior to entry, take multiple COVID-19 PCR tests before and after arrival and self-isolate at their accommodation or place of residence for time periods varying according to the guidelines of the state or territory. However, students traveling to Queensland may not need to quarantine or take any tests if they meet certain conditions due to the majority of its population being fully vaccinated. 

While restrictions and regulations differ depending on the territory and state some of the most recent updates are:

  • After arriving in New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory or Victoria all fully vaccinated travelers must take a PCR test within 24 hours and another PCR test after a week or 5 days along with quarantine for 72 hours (3days).
  • Transit beyond Sydney to another NSW region or state to quarantine and test is possible if you are vaccinated (no restrictions for domestic travel within New South Wales).
  • 14 days quarantine using apps like HealthCheckSA app or G2G Now app for people travelling to South Australia and Western Australia with further COVID-19 tests on various days before and after arrival.
  • Once 90% South Australians and West Australians (aged 12+) get fully vaccinated international arrivals won’t need to quarantine (the 90% target is expected to be reached in late December 2021 or early January 2022).
  • Don’t enter sensitive areas like childcare, early childhood education, aged care facilities, disability residential facilities or healthcare facilities except when necessary until the time period specified by the state.
  • Border Entry Form must be filled 5days prior to entering Northern Territory and home quarantine for a week is permitted for fully vaccinated people along with PCR tests on day 5, day 8 and on the final day of quarantine.
  • The Northern Territory will require all fully vaccinated arrivals to undergo rapid antigen testing and remove the requirement of quarantines, both of which are planned to begin from 20 December 2021.
  • If you enter Queensland directly from a safe travel country, quarantines aren’t necessary starting from December 13. Otherwise, a 14 day quarantine at a place within 2 hours driving distance from the airport must be performed and a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours prior to departure must be provided to the authorities.

Transit within a state or territory is possible but rules may apply differently depending on the state or territory. As the Australian government is still assessing the situation, new updates may arrive soon and it is advised students act or plan accordingly.