Fully vaccinated international arrivals will soon be able to quarantine at home for just seven days instead of doing two weeks in a hotel.
People arriving in NSW from overseas will soon be able to quarantine at home instead of in a hotel, Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed on Friday.
More than 100 fully vaccinated people will take part in a test of the new system, which will only require people to be in isolation for seven days.
If successful, the system will become the new norm and replace the requirement of two weeks in hotel quarantine.
“We want to be able to open up at Sydney and NSW as quickly as possible, so this is a really crucial step,” NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said.
Qantas staff will take part in the trial, which will begin within weeks.
The government hopes to roll out the home quarantine system to the broader public once the state manages to fully vaccinate 80 per cent of the population.
The 50 per cent mark was expected to be reached on Friday.
“One of the things that we obviously expect to occur at 80 per cent double dose is to consider our international borders,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
“That is Aussies coming back home through Sydney Airport, but also our citizens having the opportunity to go overseas where previously they weren’t able to.”
Friday’s announcement comes against a backdrop of 1284 new cases of Covid-19 in NSW, with the death toll of the latest outbreak now sitting at 222.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the announcement as the “next step” for Australia to reopen.
“NSW has carried the lion’s share of quarantining returning Australians and will be leading the way with this trial that could set the standard for the next phases of the way we live with COVID-19,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.
“This could mean more families and friends being able to reunite more quickly, more business being able to be done here, and more workers for key industries being able to fill critical jobs.”
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said home quarantine would be “an important stepping stone in re-starting international passenger services”.
“As vaccine rates rise here and overseas, we’d like to see quarantine requirements relax further,” he said.
He also said airline crews who have spent months in quarantine since the pandemic began would welcome the opportunity to isolate at home in the future.
“They are all fully vaccinated and it will make a real difference to their lives being able to quarantine in their own home and to halve the amount of time they’re isolated,” Mr Joyce said.
Mr Ayres said the trial would involve 175 people and take four weeks to complete.
He said police would be able to monitor the people in home quarantine using a smartphone application that records the user’s location and can identify them using facial recognition.
Police will also do random check-ins in person.
Those who test positive to coronavirus during their time in quarantine will be required to isolate for longer.
Quarantining at home is not expected to come at the steep cost to the traveller associated with hotel quarantine.
“I don’t think we’ll be charging people to stay in their own home,” Mr Ayres said.
The people participating must have been fully vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Those include AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.
The trial will be conducted in collaboration with the Commonwealth and the findings will inform future quarantine programs, the Prime Minister’s office said in a statement to reporters.
The statement also said NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant and her Commonwealth counterpart Paul Kelly both supported the shortened length of isolation.