New South Wales will become the first Australian state to allow fully vaccinated residents to return to the country without quarantining, starting next month, the authorities announced on Friday.
Since the start of the pandemic, tens of thousands of Australians have been stranded abroad because of caps on the numbers of weekly returnees. Anyone entering the country must quarantine for 14 days in a hotel at their own expense.
Although the authorities in New South Wales, which includes Sydney and is Australia’s most populous state, implied that tourists and other visa holders would also be able to enter, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected that notion at a news conference later on Friday, saying that such a move would be a decision for the federal government.
“We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment,” he said. “We are only extending this to Australian residents, citizens and their immediate families.”
The federal government has not made a decision about when to allow overseas students, visa holders and other international visitors to enter the country, Mr. Morrison, the prime minister added. Other states are expected to follow New South Wales’s lead on relaxing rules for residents but have not set dates yet.
Coronavirus rules in Australia vary. Covid-free states have few internal regulations but have imposed border restrictions in an attempt to keep out the virus, while states like New South Wales and Victoria are on a path to easing rules as they emerge from outbreaks of the Delta variant. Entry to the country is closed to most overseas visitors.
Under the rule change, starting Nov. 1, New South Wales will remove restrictions for fully vaccinated residents, citizens and their immediate families. Eligible travelers will be able to enter the state without quarantining, but will need to provide a negative P.C.R. test before boarding their flights. Caps on the number of such arrivals allowed into the state will also be scrapped.
Unvaccinated travelers allowed entry will still need to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel upon arrival, and their numbers will be capped at 210 per week.
Dominic Perrottet, the premier of New South Wales, said on Friday that a move toward opening up was needed to revitalize struggling industries like tourism.
“We need to rejoin the world,” he said. “We can’t live here in ‘hermit kingdom.’”
Starting on Monday, when 80 percent of New South Wales’s population above the age of 16 is expected to be fully vaccinated, other restrictions in the state will be allowed to ease. Nightclubs will reopen, limits on the number of people permitted at weddings and funerals will be removed and customers at pubs will be able to drink standing up.