Recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions opens travel

By Gabrielle Stannus

Recent easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions across the country may mean you can now make the trip you have been putting off, be it for business or pleasure.

If you are thinking about heading to the 2020 Australian Horticultural Trials Week in Melbourne next week, then you will be pleased to hear that Victoria’s borders are now open to most states and territories, without the need to quarantine on the way home. Victoria has recorded zero active cases for the first time in almost nine months. The state’s last COVID-19 patient was discharged from hospital this Monday 23 November. The so-called ‘Ring of Steel’ around metropolitan Melbourne has been removed, making travel to Victoria’s capital possible. Flights between Melbourne and Sydney resumed on Monday. Meanwhile movement into and out of South Australia is restricted due to recent COVID-19 outbreaks, including but not limited to the Parafield cluster.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
Anyone travelling into the ACT who has been in South Australia (SA) must complete an online declaration. To enter the ACT, travellers are required to declare that in the last 14 days prior to entering the ACT, they have not visited a place in South Australia that has been declared by the South Australian Government in a COVID-19 Health Alert, where the individual is required to enter a period of quarantine.

New South Wales (NSW)
NSW announced a further easing of restrictions from Wednesday. Anyone can now enter that state, except travellers who have been in a South Australian area of concern in the last 14 days. Traffic began flowing freely along the NSW-Victoria border on Monday.

Other news: If your nursery operates an on-site café, be aware that as of 23 November 2020, customer check-in at businesses must be completed using electronic methods e.g. a QR code. Where a customer does not have a mobile phone, staff must provide an alternative electronic check-in such as a tablet.

Northern Territory (NT)
All arrivals to the Northern Territory must fill in a Border Entry Form and complete 14 days of mandatory supervised quarantine at their own expense if they have recently been in an interstate COVID-19 hotspot. At the time of writing, this included Melbourne.

Queensland (QLD)
You need to apply for a Queensland Border Declaration Pass to enter Queensland. Anyone can enter Queensland unless they have been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days. Queensland borders will open to all New South Wales, including Greater Sydney, from Tuesday 1 December 2020. It is likely that Queensland will also reopen its border to Victorians from that time (unconfirmed at time of writing).

South Australia (SA)
The Victorian border will be open from Tuesday, 1 December, subject to public health advice. Travellers from Victoria will not be required to undertake 14 days of quarantine. This also applies to travellers from those states deemed as Low Community-Transmission Zones (currently ACT, NT, QLD, TAS, NSW and WA). All travellers intending to enter South Australia are required to register their intention to travel including people entering from unrestricted states.

NB. Restrictions on movement from SA to other states are currently many and varied given the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in that state. Check the restrictions in the state you wish to travel to.

Tasmania (TAS)
Travellers from low-risk areas (ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, WA and NZ) can travel to Tasmania but must register their travel via the Tas e-Travel system. They are not required to quarantine. From Friday 27 November 2020, Victoria will also be considered a low-risk area, subject to public health advice.

Travellers who have spent time in medium-risk areas, i.e. South Australia, during the 14 days before arriving in Tasmania, are required to quarantine upon arrival in Tasmania. Travellers are no longer required to self-isolate if they arrived in Tasmania before 5:30pm on 16 November and had spent time in South Australia in the previous 14 days.

Victoria (VIC)
As of 11:59pm 22 November 2020, Victoria moved to Last Step restrictions. There are no restrictions on travel between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne. No permit or approval is required for anyone wanting to enter Victoria, except for South Australians who need a Victorian Border Crossing Permit, issued for travellers based on the locations they have visited or travelled through in South Australia. These locations are categorised as green, orange and red zones (i.e. declared hot spots).

Face masks are no longer required when you are outdoors and where it is possible to stay more than 1.5 metres away from people. Face masks remain mandatory indoors and on all public transport, including ride-share services.

NB. You must always carry a face mask with you.

Other news: If your nursery operates an on-site café, rules have been relaxed.

Western Australia
Interstate travellers, except those from South Australia, are now permitted to enter Western Australia, subject to meeting strict conditions. Before travelling to Western Australia, travellers must complete a mandatory G2G PASS registration and declaration.

Travellers from very low risk states and territories (no community cases in 28 days) are not required to quarantine (currently ACT, NT, QLD and TAS).

Travellers from low risk states and territories (Less than 5 community cases per day on a 14-day rolling average) must enter quarantine for 14 days (currently NSW and VIC).

Travellers from medium risk states and territories are not permitted to enter without an exemption through G2G PASS. If permitted entry, they must enter quarantine for 14 days (currently SA). No one will be allowed into Western Australia if they have been in South Australia in the previous 14 days unless they meet new exemption requirements. These include a person responsible for transport freight or logistics.

Interstate transport and freight drivers
Any transport or freight worker entering Western Australia needs to show evidence of having received a negative COVID-19 test result in the last 5 days. Transport, freight and logistics operators are encouraged to complete a COVID Safety Plan noting the COVID Safety Plan Guidelines, to ensure they are mitigating the risks of COVID-19. If they have not been tested in the last 7 days, they will be directed at the WA border to undertake a COVID-19 test within 48 hours. They will also need to present for another COVID-19 test within 7 days of their first test if they are staying in WA.

At the National Cabinet meeting held on 13 November, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that there is a plan to have Australia open by Christmas, excepting Western Australia 1 . However, the ban on overseas travel from Australia remains in place, unless granted an exemption, and travel into Australia remains restricted. Unless arriving on a quarantine-free flight from New Zealand, all travellers arriving in Australia, including Australian citizens, are subject to mandatory quarantine for 14 days at a designated facility, such as a hotel, in their port of arrival.

The COVID-19 situation changes frequently. This information was correct at the time of publication.

Stay up to date with the latest information about the spread of COVID-19 and the steps being taken to slow its spread. Check the latest restrictions before you travel.

Federal Government: General information, National statistics, Advice for international travellers

Australian Capital Territory: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

New South Wales: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

Northern Territory: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

Queensland: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

South Australia: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

Tasmania: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

Victoria: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

Western Australia: General information, Statistics, Travel restrictions

NB. Alternatively, you can use the COVID-19 Restriction Checker to check your state or territories’ latest restrictions.
And remember: Only travel if you are well. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, get tested.

1.Morrison, Scott (Prime Minister of Australia) 2020, 'Prime Minister’s update following the National Cabinet meeting on 13 November 2020', transcript, 13 November 2020, viewed 24 November 2020,