Fresh speculation about travel to Australia has made headlines in recent days after the Premier of New South Wales indicated his state, which includes Sydney, would re-open to international visitors starting on November 1st. But don’t get your hopes up, as the decision is not his to make.
Sydney Wants To Re-Open, But Australia Says Not So Fast…
Dominic Perrottet, the Premier of New South Wales (NSW), wants to re-open Sydney. His state now boasts an 80% vaccination rate and in a surprise move, he announced that that quarantine and travel restrictions would be lifted on November 1st, including for foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated.
80% in NSW! Been a long wait but we’ve done it.
Feels great to break this news. Huge thanks to all the nurses and vaccination hub staff at @NSWHealth, the GPs, the pharmacists, and each and every person who rolled up their sleeve to get us here.
— Dom Perrottet (@Dom_Perrottet) October 16, 2021
The move caught Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison by surprise. Although Morrison and Perrottet are both members of the same Liberal party (right of center party in Australian politics), the two are not exactly friends.
In any case, while the federal system in Australia reserves many policymaking decisions to the states, it is the federal government, not state governments, which control immigration. Thus, while NSW may be ready to welcome foreign guests, it will be up to the federal government to let them in, and Morrison has indicated that is unlikely to happen next month:
“We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that. It is for the Commonwealth and federal government to decide when the border opens and shut at an international level and we will do that. In the first instance it will be for Australian residents and their families. We will see how that goes. The Commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors traveling.”
And it’s really that simple. NSW can prepare to open as much as it wants, but it will be up to federal government to decide who is let in and who is not.
New South Wales wants to re-open to the world, but must respect the timeline of the federal government in order to do so. Consequently, any hopes that you’ll be able to fly to Sydney next month and enter Australia as a foreign tourist should be set aside. But NSW will scrap quarantine requirements and further re-open society, which ironically means other Australian states may tighten border controls against it. It may be that NSW sees far fewer visitors before it finally sees more visitors.