New South Wales may be leading the way in opening up inside Australia, but it’s countries overseas that are stealing a march on overseas travel.
Last weekend, Fiji – a favourite holiday destination for Australians – announced it would welcome tourists now the tiny island nation has hit its 80 per cent vaccination rate.
Singapore, despite recent rises in coronavirus case numbers, is open to nine nations, and Indonesia and Malaysia are also throwing open the doors.
Singapore Airlines’ website crashed last weekend when bookings opened. Singapore is opening Vaccinated Travel Lanes with the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Demark and Spain from October 19. Germany and Brunei are already in operation.
But Qantas and Singapore Airlines are ready to schedule when Australia is given the tick, and Qantas is already taking bookings for flights from Singapore from December 18.
It’s a welcome sign for Australians keen to visit family and friends in Singapore. Many have already booked tickets for Christmas in the hope of a travel bubble with Singapore coming to fruition. Explore has received reports of flights departing December 23 going for $1200 return.
Australia has had a few false starts. Our bubble with New Zealand burst, and is yet to be reinflated. And the world of international travel is almost as difficult as getting on a plane to Perth.
But our international vaccine certificates are almost ready – we’ll be using the barcode provided by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
The uncertainty of paperwork, travel passports, healthcare and quarantining requirements is a headache. Here’s our guide to travelling to six popular destinations.
Travelling to the UK
The United Kingdom is one of the most searched destinations for travellers looking to reunite with family members.
But before you can visit you must have completed a course of AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer vaccine at least 14 days prior to departure to avoid a
10-day stay in quarantine.
You will also need to complete a “passenger locator” form 48 hours before arrival and pre-pay for a COVID-19 test that will be taken on day two of your stay. You can book a self-swab test from as little as £1.25 (about $2.30). See www.find-travel-test-provider.service.gov.uk.
The UK is one of the few countries where Australia has a reciprocal health agreement to cover the costs of public hospital and other healthcare services – so don’t forget to take your Medicare card.
Travelling to Europe
You will be required to have a COVID test before you depart for Europe – you will not be permitted to board flights on airlines such as Alitalia, Lufthansa and British Airways without a negative test result.
Australians who are fully vaccinated and flying from home or via Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the US or the UK will be able to bypass quarantine in Italy.
Iberia, the main airline flying to Spain, requires all travellers to Spain to prove that they have received a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours prior to departure, unless they can provide proof that they are fully vaccinated.
Visitors to Greece do not need to be vaccinated to enter the country (however it is recommended that you are fully vaccinated before departure) and will not have to quarantine when you arrive.
If you are visiting Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia or Sweden, you have access to their healthcare systems if you show your Medicare card and Australian passport.
Travelling to Singapore
Singapore Airlines requires passengers older than two years to take a PCR test no more than 48 hours before their flight’s departure. When entering Singapore via the Reciprocal Green Lane, visitors will not have to quarantine. Self-administered PCR tests are not permitted. You must go to an accredited medical facility.
The government has said you will need to be fully vaccinated before you are allowed to travel to Singapore. Before you arrive, have a PCR test no more than 48 hours prior to departure and take proof of a negative results.
Currently, there are stay-at-home orders in place for travellers – you must isolate for seven days when you arrive in the Lion City but Australians looking to head to Singapore hope that a travel lane will start once the borders are open.
But at this point in time, leisure travel is not permitted and exempt travellers must quarantine on arrival.
Travelling to the US
In the US, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has removed quarantine requirements for international visitors, but all air passengers will have to be tested no more than three days before their flight departs. You must present a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 before boarding the flight.
The complicated part of the CDC’s test requirements is that passengers must be tested with a viral test that could be either an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test.
Hawaii is one of the only US states requiring mandatory negative COVID-19 results to bypass a 14-day quarantine.
When it comes to flight carriers, Hawaiian Airlines, for example, will provide saliva-based at-home tests which are exclusive to the airline. These tests have a 24-hour turnaround for results.
Travelling to Fiji
This week, Virgin Australia announced it would be bringing forward flights between Australia and our South Pacific neighbour to December 16. Before you can pass through customs in Fiji you will need to ensure you have proof of vaccination. Both Air New Zealand and Qantas will check your vaccination status before you board your flight.
You will need to have a COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before departing for Fiji.
Currently, you are required to quarantine for 14 days at your own cost but a travel bubble will hopefully restart as Australia reaches its 80 per cent vaccination target.
Travelling to Japan
Before you travel to Japan you will need to show proof that you have been fully vaccinated with AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer.
Japan Airlines requires proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. You will not be permitted to enter Japan without a negative test result.
Travellers from a number of countries, including Australia, are required to quarantine for 10 days, upon which you will need to take a PCR test and get a negative result before exploring the country. Australia and Japan have already been in talks about travel bubbles.
* Information current at press time but please check requirements carefully as they can change.