Australia is set to officially greenlight international travel today bringing forward the plan to scrap the international border bans to November in states that hit vaccination targets.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will later today announce the new framework the states will need to meet before they can agree to reopen international travel.
The Prime Minister first announced the border closure on March 20, 2020 to all non-citizens and nonresidents. Even Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family needed to apply for an exemption to travel and to quarantine at a hotel for 14 days on arrival at a cost of more than $3000.
The new rules for international travellers will allow travel for double-vaccinated Australians and require pre-flight Covid tests.
It will also require the lifting of current international arrival caps that were put in place to manage home quarantine.
Finance Minister Simon Birmigham said there would be a "cautious and staged" reopening of international borders that would be linked to states hitting 80 per cent of adults double vaxxed.
"What we want to see in relation to international borders is that we ultimately get to the stage where people can move once again freely with confidence around the world,'' he told Sky News.
"Particularly for people who are fully vaccinated. As you are aware there have been trials of home quarantine in some parts of the country.
"There will be a cautious and staged approach. Obviously different states are going to hit vaccination targets at different times."
NSW is expected to be first cab off the rank and travellers will be able to trial a 7-day home quarantine option. Victoria is also in talks to reopen international travel.
The international border ban is currently in place until December 17 but that will now be lifted a month earlier than previously planned.
But with states including Western Australia proposing to keep even state borders shut, the decision means Australians are likely to be able to fly to Paris before they can travel to Perth.
It's a move that is expected to trigger a dramatic increase of Qantas flights to and from Australia before Christmas and it could hold the key to helping thousands of stranded Australians get home to their families over the summer holidays.
Even the federal budget forecast that borders would remain largely closed until July, 2022. The Prime Minister has credited the international border ban with saving thousands of lives.
"It saved over 30,000 lives in Australia,'' he said this week in Washington.
"We also took action to save livelihoods. And our economy has come back strongly, even with the restrictions we have in place now. As they lift, then we will see our economy come back strongly. There's nothing wrong with our economy. The only thing that's holding back is obviously restrictions that are helping save lives."
But with NSW and Victoria now on track to hit 80 per cent double doses within weeks, Australia can open up much faster and talks are underway between the Prime Minister and premiers on how to achieve that as soon as possible.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said this week that the hotel quarantine system was an idea that was "past its use by date" as the state plans to embrace a 7-day home quarantine pilot program.
"If you're fully vaccinated with a vaccine our authorities deem to be effective and safe, you'll be able to quarantine at home. We're going through the pilot as we speak. But the hotel quarantine system for returning Australians is past its use by date. If you're fully vaccinated, you should be able to quarantine at home,'' she told ABC Breakfast on Tuesday morning.
"I would be more than happy to welcome home Australians, fully vaccinated Australians will be able to quarantine at home in New South Wales. And obviously every other state premier will have their decisions around what they'll do. We make sure they get safely on a flight back to their home state. What happens after that is a matter for their state premier."