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NSW has decided to go it alone and completely scrap hotel and home quarantine in a desperate move to reintroduce Sydney to the world.
From November 1, the state will no longer require fully-vaccinated domestic and international travellers to isolate upon their arrival, Premier Dominic Perrottet announced on Friday, along with a slew of new lockdown freedoms starting next week.
Travellers will need to take a Covid test and show proof of their vaccination status before boarding a plane to Sydney. International flights will be open to all visitors, not just returning Aussies, he said.
"Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past," Mr Perrottet said.
"We are opening Sydney and New South Wales to the world, and that date will come in on November 1st.
"We will work closely with the Commonwealth to ensure precautions are in place so we keep people safe but rejoin the world.
"This is a significant day for our state. It isn’t because the government has done the work, it is because of every single person across New South Wales who has made the effort to get vaccinated."
Although the state’s brief home quarantine trial was a success, the premier said "there is no reason why we should take health staff or police staff or other public servants away from their front-line duties for them to monitor people in quarantine" given the high vaccination rates.
Mr Perrottet said the state had a weekly cap of 210 unvaccinated travellers who would still have to quarantine.
"We need to rejoin the world. We can’t live here in the hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up, and this decision today is a big one, but it is the right one to get NSW connected globally," he said.
During the media conference on Friday, officials insisted the move was backed up by NSW Health and said the high vaccination rate should help deter any Covid variants that come from overseas.
Radical move outpaces national Covid plan
The radical shift outpaces the national cabinet’s agreement.
Under the reopening plan, an 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rate was supposed to trigger a gradual reopening of international travel with "safe countries" and "proportionate quarantine".
The deal - based on Doherty Institute modelling - signalled reduced requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.
But quarantine-free travel was only part of the final "post-vaccination" phase which seeks to manage coronavirus in the same way as other infectious diseases.
The explosive departure from the plan raises major questions about state borders and requirements for international arrivals wanting to leave NSW.
The Morrison government has urged states and territories to drop hard borders when 80 per cent vaccination rates were reached.
But some jurisdictions are not expected to reach that target until December at the earliest.
The West Australian government has signalled it won't open to states with coronavirus until next year.
Following the announcement, Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said she was concerned about the lack of quarantine in NSW.
She said state border settings would have to be reassessed, but she doesn't have enough information about the NSW plan yet.
"There's just been an enormous change this morning that I haven't been able to get my head around," she told reporters on Friday.
"So I need to go and work out what that change means, and it's not just a change that will impact on NSW, opening the borders to NSW then leads to a flow on to every other state.
"So, I just have to recalibrate my thinking that I've been coming to over the last few weeks."
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