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Australia Victoria travel restrictions: When will other states open their borders?

22:52  27 october  2020
22:52  27 october  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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a large passenger jet flying through a cloudy blue sky: Travelling freely into other states is likely weeks away for most Victorians. (ABC News: Dean Faulkner, File photo) © Provided by ABC News Travelling freely into other states is likely weeks away for most Victorians. (ABC News: Dean Faulkner, File photo)

Victoria may have just crushed a second wave of coronavirus, but most states and territories are still weighing up when exactly they will open their borders to Victorians.

Some jurisdictions, like Tasmania and South Australia, have outlined case benchmarks they'd like to see met first.

Others, like the Northern Territory, are allowing regional Victorians in first.

Here's what we know about different states' stances.

Queensland

The Queensland Government said it would be reviewing all of its border restrictions at the end of the month.

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The state currently considers all of Victoria and New South Wales a hotspot.

It's expected that on Friday, one day before the state election, Queensland will announce a decision about opening its borders to New South Wales.

But it's unclear when Victorians might be allowed into the Sunshine State again.

When asked about border restriction decisions yesterday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state's Chief Health Officer looked at factors like testing rates and whether the sources of infections could be traced.

"I will be getting the advice from the Health Officer and when she's ready to provide that advice, we will make our announcement," she said.

Tasmania

Tasmania is aiming to reopen its borders to Victoria on December 1.

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But as with any government decision in the COVID area, it ultimately depends on public health advice.

One of the "benchmark tests" for Tasmania is a state recording fewer than five cases of unknown transmission over 28 days.

"We're still targeting December 1, but as I've always said we'll be responsive to the evolving situation there," Premier Peter Gutwein said yesterday.

Any changes Tasmania makes will likely apply to all of Victoria, instead of opening to regional areas before Melbourne.

"It's both a safer choice and a more straightforward and unambiguous choice if we deal with Victoria as a whole," Director of Public Health Mark Veitch said.

However, he said if over time it proved impossible for Melbourne to stamp down community transmission, Tasmania might consider a more "piecemeal" approach.

Tasmania has recently opened its borders to South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT, and is expected to reopen them to New South Wales at the end of next week.

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South Australia

South Australia closed its border with Victoria back in March.

It introduced a 40km border bubble in August, then expanded that to 70km earlier this month.

For the rest of Victoria however, travelling into the state for non-essential reasons is likely off the cards for weeks.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said it could take up to four weeks without a community transmission case in Victoria for hard border restrictions to be further relaxed.

He also said the next step in relaxing the border would be allowing Victorian residents to do a 14-day quarantine at someone's residence, rather than letting people enter and travel freely straight away.

Like Tasmania, South Australia is more likely to consider Victoria as a whole, rather than allowing people from regional areas outside the 70km border buffer zone into the state before Melburnians.

New South Wales

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she wanted to open the border with Victoria "as soon as we can".

But she said the Government was watching to see what happened as restrictions were eased in coming weeks.

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"Once you ease restrictions and people start moving around again, that's the real test," she said.

New South Wales closed its border to Victoria in early July, only allowing people with permits to enter.

A two-kilometre border zone was introduced on July 21, which was then expanded to 50 kilometres on September 4, and has been expanded again a few times in the weeks since.

New South Wales has not confirmed a date, or set explicit case thresholds like Tasmania has, for opening the border to Victoria.

People from other states and territories can travel into New South Wales.

Western Australia

Western Australia's health advice has been not to reopen its hard border until there is no community transmission for 28 days in all states and territories.

Despite dropping case numbers, WA Premier Mark McGowan said the state would "continue to be cautious".

"Community spread in the other states has obviously been a danger to Western Australia, as we have said constantly," he said.

"As that is brought under control, the Chief Health Officer analyses that and makes further decisions."

Western Australia's hard border has been in place since April.

Only exempt travellers are able to enter the state, and if you're coming from Victoria the list of reasons for travelling into WA is even smaller.

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The State's Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson is this week expected to update his advice to the Government on the border arrangements.

In his most recent advice, dated October 14, Dr Robertson said Victoria's exemptions could be brought in line with other states if cases dropped enough.

"The measures to control importation from Victoria remain appropriate and proportionate and are likely to remain so for another two to four weeks," he wrote.

"The trend in case numbers, however, should be reviewed in four weeks, and if cases have fallen to less than five cases per day over a five-day average, the exemptions currently in place for other jurisdictions should be considered."

Northern Territory

Most regional Victorians will be allowed into the Northern Territory from November 2.

People who have visited Melbourne will still need to quarantine, but transiting through the airport does not count.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the Northern Territory was "on track" to open its borders to Melburnians before Christmas, but said a final decision had not been made yet.

"We will then have to do a 'watch and wait' of how things will then go as Melbourne and [regional] Victoria mingle," Mr Gunner said.

"And at this stage, right now, with all the evidence, that should be fine."

Australian Capital Territory

Travel to the ACT from Victoria is still heavily restricted.

Anyone looking to return to the ACT after entering Victoria will need to apply for an exemption, and may need to quarantine for 14 days.

"We will continue to monitor the situation in Victoria closely in the coming weeks as they ease their restrictions in place," an ACT Health spokesperson said.

"In regard to any potential future changes to the operation of the ACT's border with Victoria, we will continue to work closely with our neighbours in NSW."

The ACT Government has been in caretaker mode since September, so there hasn't been a recent announcement on when it might consider revisiting the rules for incoming Victorians.

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