It was a much-anticipated moment when Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that Australia’s international borders would open to allow Australian citizens and permanent residents to “take our lives back” – possibly by Christmas.

Australians are moving a step closer to that moment as international borders could re-open for vaccinated travellers in NSW as early as 1 November.

Discussions between Mr Morrison and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet took place on Monday, the first day of Sydney’s reopening following 100 days of lockdown, and centred around a proposal to fast-track the rollout of home quarantine in NSW. The new rules would see returned vaccinated travellers move away from 14 days of hotel quarantine to self-isolation at home, such as is the case with trials currently taking place in several states. It is expected that allowing travellers to quarantine at home will increase demand for flights, hence it would allow Qantas and other carriers to expand the number of routes being offered.

“The NSW Premier and I have been discussing how we can accelerate our plan to open international travel when home quarantine is made available,’’ Mr Morrison said on Sunday.

“I know the NSW Government is looking at ways to fast track home quarantine in November and if that happens we will be able to move to facilitate the opening up of the international border into NSW sooner.

“Now, that would mean home quarantine for vaccinated Australians wishing to return home via Sydney and giving the option for international travel for vaccinated Australians to leave and return.”

Last week, Mr Morrison had announced the new framework the states will need to meet in regards to vaccination rates before they can agree to reopen borders and allow for international travel.

“Vaccinations are winning the fight, with daily case numbers in NSW now close to one third of what they were at the height of the outbreak,” he said.

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Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alex Hawke told Neos Kosmos, “It’s so close now. We’re getting very interested. The Prime Minister is talking about the end of the year at Christmas. I think we’re on track to hit that. And it means we can have a better year next year to see our family.” 

Asked about the devastated temporary visa holders of Australia who have been excluded from the easing of border restrictions, Mr Hawke said it is only a matter of time before borders are open to all.

“These harsh restrictions have been there for health and public safety and to save people’s lives. You know I had some people in my electorate up here who we gave exemptions to go. One young guy who had two young kids from India, he went to India, he contracted COVID and he died. He was there to visit the funeral of his grandfather. It was very sad circumstances,” he said.

The international border ban was first implemented on 17 December but will now be lifted a month earlier than previously planned.