Exact date for international flights announced
A plan by the federal government and tourism groups to restart Australia's battered travel sector aims to have state border restrictions lifted by December 1 and a trans-Tasman travel bubble up and running by November.
However, Victoria will likely keep its border shut until early next year.
A tourism task force comprising Tourism Australia, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Flight Centre and other industry leaders has outlined its timeline for restarting the country's ailing tourism industry.
Under its plan, revealed by The Australian, hard state borders would come down by December 1 but Victoria's border will not reopen until January or February as it continues to recover from its deadly COVID-19 second wave.
New Zealanders would begin travelling to Australia quarantine-free by November, with Sydney likely to be the first port to reopen to Kiwi travellers.
It is then expected Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand without needing to quarantine in January or February.
The task force also wants hotel quarantine caps to be removed by March 1.
It has also set a timeline for the return of cruises, with domestic expedition cruises for 300 people or less starting in November before the return of bigger ships and trips to New Zealand and the Pacific.
Details of the task force's timeline comes as talk heats up of a trans-Tasman travel bubble being introduced by Christmas.
Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive chair John Hart told The Australian the first stage would see New Zealanders travelling to Australia.
"Whether they are New Zealanders or repatriated Australians doesn't matter. It's about having a quarantine-free entry into Australia," he said.
"We hope then the response will be New Zealand says 'we're happy for it to happen the other way as well', acknowledging it's probably going to start with the South Island rather than the North Island given they've still got active cases in the north."
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday it was "possible" trans-Tasman travel could happen by December under a state-by-state approach that was likely to begin with NSW.
The country's Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said it could even begin earlier than that.
"If we have the safe travel and tracing operations running as they should … then I think it [travel bubble] can be much, much sooner," he told Channel 9's Today Show.
"But it is over to the authorities to ensure that it happens both ways.
"Personally if we can ensure that both Australia and New Zealand are safe in what we seek to do, it is very important that we get our tourism back on track as fast as we possibly can."
Meanwhile, the Tasmanian government has revealed it may reopen its borders to South Australia, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and the ACT - and possibly NSW - by the end of October, pending public health advice.
But uncertainty lingers over the future of other state border restrictions.
West Australian Health Minister Roger Cook wouldn't be drawn on an exact date WA's borders would reopen to other states and territories.
"It will be based upon the pest public health advice," he told ABC's Breakfast this morning.
"Western Australia's going well in terms of its management of COVID-19. We will open our borders and we obviously welcome the opportunity to do so, but we will only do so on the best health advice and when it is safe to do so."
Meanwhile Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk recently reopened her state to the ACT but has not committed to welcoming back people from NSW.
Yesterday, deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said it wasn't "good enough" that Australians couldn't move freely within their own country.
"We want the Premiers of those states who have still got very tight lockdowns to ease those restrictions," Mr McCormack said.
"Because what we need to have are planes back in the air. Planes in the air means jobs on the ground. People want to travel, particularly as we approach these warmer months where people want to go on holidays and they want to catch up with their loved ones over Christmas.
"It's not good enough that we've got tight lockdowns, border restrictions that are preventing many people from travelling where they want to be around this great nation."
Originally published as Exact date state borders will reopen