Coronavirus border restrictions: Travel rules explained, state-by-state

Noble Horvath

It’s been a big week for changes to border restrictions around the nation, with multiple states adjusting their travel rules or ridding them altogether. South Australia will open up to New South Wales on Wednesday; while Queensland hinted – following a border bubble expansion – it could further reopen to […]

It’s been a big week for changes to border restrictions around the nation, with multiple states adjusting their travel rules or ridding them altogether.

South Australia will open up to New South Wales on Wednesday; while Queensland hinted – following a border bubble expansion – it could further reopen to its southern neighbour if its low case numbers continue.

With the situation changing daily, it is hard to keep track of where you can and can’t travel.

So, from where you can go to whether you’ll have to quarantine, here’s a state-by-state guide to Australia’s border restrictions – and what you can expect to change next.

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SOUTH AUSTRALIA

You can travel to South Australia from any Australian state or territory unless you’re coming from Victoria.

The state announced its long-awaited border reopening to NSW on Tuesday – meaning travellers from NSW join Queensland, the ACT, the NT, WA and Tasmania in being allowed to enter SA without needing to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

If you’re travelling to SA, however, you’re still required to complete an online approval form first.

And for those coming from Victoria, you can only enter SA if you’re an essential traveller or live within 40km of the state’s border.

QUEENSLAND

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hard border stance – going so far as to say she’d rather lose the upcoming election than reopen and threaten her state’s progress against the virus – has been a hallmark of the pandemic.

Travellers from SA, WA, the NT or Tasmania can enter Queensland freely.

Residents in the ACT will also be allowed back into Queensland – after a short stint of being locked out – from September 25, so long as they present a border declaration form stating they haven’t been in NSW or Victoria in the past 14 days.

Victorians – without an exemption – will be turned around at the airport if they fly into Queensland.

But when it comes to NSW, Queensland’s border closures get a bit more confusing.

As of October 1, the state’s border bubble will be expanded to include Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Glen Innes.

Queenslanders will be able to visit these regions, and residents living in the more than 41 NSW postcodes will be able to apply for a border pass to travel into Queensland.

As for everyone else in NSW, a trip to Queensland means a 14-day stay in self-funded hotel quarantine – though chief health officer Jeanette Young said more restrictions could be relaxed from this Friday if NSW’s case numbers stay low.

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AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Travellers from COVID-affected areas in NSW are urged to reconsider their travel to the ACT, but are still allowed into the Territory without needing to quarantine.

The Territory’s border is only closed to Victoria, with anyone (other than ACT residents) travelling in from Victoria denied entry unless they’re granted an exemption by ACT Health.

Entry to the ACT from Victoria is only possible through Canberra Airport.

If you’re an ACT resident, you must notify ACT Health of your intention to return and must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.

VICTORIA

Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) website declares that “no permit or approval is required to enter Victoria from another state – however, you will need to adhere to the restrictions and directions that are in place to slow the spread of coronavirus in Victoria”.

That means, if you’re heading to metropolitan Melbourne, you need to follow the rules of the capital’s Stage 4 lockdown. If you’re heading for regional Victoria, you’ll need to abide by step three of its lockdown exit roadmap.

As for Victorians hoping to head elsewhere, your options are unfortunately pretty limited. In order to enter another state or territory, you need to meet one of three criteria: holding an exemption, being an essential worker or living along a state border.

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NEW SOUTH WALES

The New South Wales border has been open to all states and territories since the beginning of the pandemic – except, since its second wave hit, Victoria.

Residents returning to NSW from Victoria are required to undergo two weeks of hotel quarantine.

As for people who live in one of the NSW/Victoria border towns, they’re not permitted to go further into NSW than the border region.

“You’ll need to apply for a NSW resident’s permit to re-enter NSW (requiring a flight to Sydney Airport and quarantine,” the NSW Government says.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has hinted however, as regional Victoria continues to record low case numbers, residents in those communities could soon be allowed to travel freely in and out of NSW.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

If you’re travelling to the Top End from or through a declared coronavirus hotspot, you’ll be sent into mandatory quarantine for 14 days at your own expense.

Entrants from Queensland, SA, Tasmania, WA or the ACT can, however, enter the state without needing to quarantine – with Greater Sydney set to join that list on October 9.

“Victoria will continue to be a hot spot for the purposes of travel to the Northern Territory,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner told reporters on September 11.

“This morning, Dr (Hugh) Heggie advised he’s now satisfied with the progress that’s been made in Sydney to recommend a change to their hot spot status.”

All arrivals to the NT must fill in a Border Entry Form before entering the Territory.

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA

You cannot enter Western Australia unless you have been granted an exemption on application.

Premier Mark McGowan’s stance on keeping his state closed has held tight since the beginning of Australia’s COVID-19 outbreak, and is yet to name a date for when he’ll consider opening up again.

While entrants from other states and West Australians coming home will be required to complete a 14-day stay in hotel quarantine, Victorians or NSW residents who don’t have written approval from the state emergency co-ordinator won’t be allowed in at all.

TASMANIA

Unless you’re a seasonal or FIFO worker, Tasmania’s borders are closed to you – and you’ll have to pay for a mandatory 14-day stay in hotel quarantine before you can enter the state.

Anyone entering Tasmania – resident or not – must have prior approval to do so, via the G2G PASS system.

While December 1 was originally flagged as the date when borders could reopen, Premier Peter Gutwein hinted last week Australians from other jurisdictions could enter Tassie sooner than expected.

Travellers from WA, SA, Queensland, the NT, the ACT and possibly even NSW could be allowed into the state if approved by the State Controller in late October, Mr Gutwein said.

“We are not declaring that we will open early (but) I think there is a good chance we would be able to open towards the end of the month,” he told reporters.

“Obviously the circumstances of each of those jurisdictions will be what will inform our decision, as well as our health preparedness, our aged care preparedness as well.”

If you are from Tasmania and are travelling back from another state, you must self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return, and can do so at their own home if you provide the necessary documentation.

If you can’t provide the necessary evidence of your place of residence, you’ll be directed to stay in government-provided quarantine (that you must pay for).

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