Where can I travel in Australia without Covid holiday border restrictions?

That Australian road trip you’ve been dreaming of for the past two years is about to become possible again, at least along the East Coast.

The hermit state of Western Australia, as it has been throughout the pandemic, is a no-go zone, after Mark McGowan labeled every other part of the country as “extreme risk.”

But to the delight and relief of tourism organizations and those with very itchy feet after lockdowns, Queensland is removing the last bits of its harsh border regime on Saturday.

This will make Australia’s east coast completely free of travel restrictions from Covid-19 – meaning uninterrupted travel from Melbourne to Townsville from Saturday.

Three women pose in front of the Sydney Opera House. NSW is fully open for domestic travel

The $27.3 billion tourism in Queensland, which has been affected by Covid restrictions in the state, welcomed the move and hoped visitors will return soon.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said the change will ease the burden on police who had enforced the state’s strict border regime for months.

“Now is the time for the barricades to take down and for the police to come home and the police to continue with their normal operational duties on the front lines as they are needed across the state as we get this Omicron- golf,” she said.

“Now is the time, and the time is right now, because next week we are moving towards 90 percent (of people who are double vaccinated). We have to take this step.’

Queensland Tourism Industry Council director Daniel Gschwind said the decision sent a ‘strong signal of hope’ to the industry.

“Importantly, it signals a change in the mood of the nation and the mood of us individually,” Mr Gschwind told The Australian.

“There is indeed a future and we don’t have to stay in this disaster mode forever.”

However, he said there is still a long way to go to make a full recovery.

“Our tourism industry is going through a really tough time… with staff shortages and ongoing uncertainty and lack of consumer confidence in travel.

People relax on Burleigh Heads beach in Queensland's Gold Coast, which reopens its borders

People relax on Burleigh Heads beach in Queensland’s Gold Coast, which reopens its borders

DOMESTIC ACCESSION RULES TO STATES AND TERRITORIES

QUEENLAND – All restrictions removed from Saturday January 15th

NEW SOUTH WALES – No restrictions for domestic travelers

VICTORIA – No restrictions for domestic travelers

TASMANIA – A border pass is required, for which you must be fully vaccinated or have an exemption. Those from risk areas, currently considered the rest of Australia, must return a negative result from a COVID-19 rapid antigen test performed in the 24 hours prior to departure, or a PCR test 72 hours prior to departure

SOUTH AUSTRALIA – No restrictions for domestic travelers

ACT – No restrictions for domestic travelers

NORTHERN TERRITORY – Double vaccinated visitors with a negative RAT can enter the NT without having to quarantine. They should take further RATs on days three and six

WEST AUSTRALIA – Closed to all other states and territories, except in very limited circumstances. A travel waiver may be granted under ‘special or extraordinary circumstances’ if approved by the state police commissioner or chief health officer

Note: Rules vary from state to state for those not fully vaccinated against Covid

Source: Australian State and Territory Governments and the Federal Government

“Right now it’s very, very challenging,” he said.

With the reopening of Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are the only states and territories to require negative Covid-19 testing for interstate arrivals.

But Western Australia has banned residents of all other states and territories from visiting, not even to visit dying relatives.

This week Prime Minister Mark McGowan elevated the Northern Territory to ‘extreme risk’, the highest level of Covid warning banning all arrivals, even for compassionate reasons.

Travel waivers may be granted under “special or extraordinary circumstances” if approved by the state police commissioner or health officer.

Exempt travelers must be vaccinated at their own expense and complete 14 days of quarantine at a state-run facility.

People walk along Princes Bridge in Melbourne.  Victoria was hard hit by Covid but now open to domestic travellers

People walk along Princes Bridge in Melbourne. Victoria was hard hit by Covid but now open to domestic travellers

In Tasmania, a border pass is required for domestic travel, which requires you to be fully vaccinated or have a waiver.

Flight Center director James Kavanagh welcomed Queensland’s decision to reopen and said it would give travelers peace of mind.

“In the run-up to Christmas, policy changed almost daily with new information coming out, and it will change even faster in the next two months,” he said.

“It just gives companies a lot more confidence to prepare for the coming year.”

A young couple is seen in the water at Cottesloe Beach in Perth.  Western Australia is closed to visitors from the rest of the country except in very limited circumstances

A young couple is seen in the water at Cottesloe Beach in Perth. Western Australia is closed to visitors from the rest of the country except in very limited circumstances

Western Australia has now deemed all states and territories an 'extreme risk', shutting out the entire country (pictured, a map designation WA's Covid-19 classification requirements)

Western Australia has now deemed all states and territories an ‘extreme risk’, shutting out the entire country (pictured, a map designation WA’s Covid-19 classification requirements)

Gold Coast City Mayor Tom Tate said the removal of the border barricade should have come sooner.

“The border should have opened at the end of last year,” he said.

“It’s time for the message to be: if you haven’t been vaccinated now, you’ve made a choice and you’re nine times more likely to get sick.

“For the rest of the population who have done the right thing, the message should be: get on with your life… and learn to live with Covid.”

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