National News

Australia to restart international travel

Australians will soon be able to freely travel overseas and fully vaccinated people allowed to quarantine in homes for a week.

Tough border measures preventing people from leaving Australia without approval will be scrapped when 80 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage for people aged 16 and over is reached.

A shift from hotels to home quarantine will be the trigger for a major overhaul of international travel, with the new system expected to start in November.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the time had come to give Australians back their lives.

"I want us to get moving. I want people to be able to come home," he told reporters in Canberra.

"I want that incentive to be there that says 'let's get vaccinated, let's open up'."

Fully immunised Australians will be allowed to quarantine in homes for a week provided they have received approved vaccines.

That will include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, along with China's Sinovac and Covishield produced in India.

Unvaccinated people or those without approved jabs will require two weeks' managed isolation in hotels or dedicated facilities.

People who cannot be immunised including those under 12 or with a medical condition will be treated as vaccinated.

States and territories will access the new freedoms at different times with vaccination coverage and home quarantine programs varying across jurisdictions.

NSW is expected to be first cab off the rank with that state's government keen to welcome home some of the 45,000 Australians stranded abroad.

In coming weeks, Australians will be able to access internationally proof of vaccination certificates which include a QR code.

The federal government will offer to facilitate flights into any state or territory that agrees to start seven-day home quarantine trials for returning Australians.

"It's time to give Australians their lives back," Mr Morrison said.

"We've saved lives. We've saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country."

Qantas has brought forward restarting international flights to November 14.

The national carrier will operate three weekly return flights between Sydney and London and the same number between Sydney and Los Angeles.

But West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said on Friday that his state would be open to international travel "some time next year" with a date set once the state vaccination rate was between 80 and 90 per cent.

He rejected the idea that returning travellers could undertake a week of home quarantine, saying that was not endorsed by public health authorities.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the government needed to start delivering for stranded Australians rather than focusing on more announcements.

"Mr Morrison has failed on borders because he failed to establish purpose-built quarantine," he said.

Testing is expected to remain a requirement of international travel with rapid antigen checks likely to form part of the regime.

The government is also working towards quarantine-free travel with countries like New Zealand when health advice deems it safe.

The prime minister believes the isolation period for fully vaccinated people could be further cut in the future.

Mr Morrison said recognising Sinovac and Covishield would be important in allowing Australians and international students in from countries where the vaccines were used.

More than 55 per cent of Australians over 16 have been fully vaccinated, while 78.5 per cent have received at least one dose.

NSW recorded 15 deaths and 864 new cases, while there were 1143 infections and three deaths in Victoria.

The ACT detected a record 52 new cases, along with two deaths.

© AAP 2021