Australia VTL: NSW and Victoria impose 72-hour isolation requirement for all international arrivals

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Bad news for travellers to Australia: due to the Omicron variant, Sydney and Melbourne have imposed 72-hour isolation requirements for all arrivals.

The Singapore-Australia VTL has gotten off to a rough start, as the new COVID-19 Omicron variant has led New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (VIC) to impose 72-hour isolation requirements for all international arrivals, effective from 28 November 2021. 

This does not bode well for Singaporeans hoping to travel to Australia for their year-end holidays, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that the Australian federal government is prepared to implement this at a national level. 

New NSW precautionary measures

International arrivals to Sydney will face a mandatory 72-hour isolation period

Here’s the full list of precautionary measures being taken by the NSW government, effective from 0000 on 28 November 2021. 

  1. In line with Commonwealth measures, all travellers arriving in NSW who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi, and the Seychelles during the 14 day period before their arrival in NSW must enter hotel quarantine for 14 days, irrespective of their vaccination status;
  2. All travellers who have been in any other overseas country during the 14 day period before their arrival in NSW must travel directly to their place of residence or accommodation and isolate for 72 hours, pending further health advice;
  3. All flight crew who have been overseas during the 14-day period before their arrival in NSW must travel directly to their place of residence or accommodation and isolate for 14 days or until their departure on another flight that leaves Australia, consistent with the current rules for unvaccinated flight crew;
  4. Anyone who has already arrived in NSW who has been in any of the nine African countries within the previous 14 days must immediately get tested and isolate for 14 days, and call NSW Health on 1800 943 553;
  5. All unvaccinated travellers from any overseas country will continue to enter hotel quarantine.

(2) is the one that will affect Singaporeans the most, as it means the first three days of your trip are effectively spent in quarantine. 

To be clear, the new rules do not affect you if you’ve already arrived in NSW prior to 28 November 2021; you’ll still follow the existing regulations. 

Under the current regulations, travellers from Singapore arriving in NSW must undergo a COVID-19 PCR test:

  • Within 24 hours of arrival
  • On or after Day 6

COVID-19 PCR testing is free in Sydney, even for non-Australians. I did my test at a 4Cyte Pathology Clinic downtown, but it’s also possible to do it at the airport on arrival (at the arrivals level) if you can reach the facility before 9.30 p.m. 

Results came back within 12 hours. 

New VIC precautionary measures

International arrivals to Melbourne will have to self-isolate as well

VIC’s measures are similar to NSW, and also require a 72-hour self-isolation for all international arrivals from 28 November 2021. 

Self-isolation can include private accommodation such as a hotel or holiday rental, provided there is no sharing of bedrooms, bathrooms or other facilities with people outside the travelling party. Anyone they are residing with must also self-isolate for 72 hours. 

All those who arrive in VIC prior to 28 November 2021 will follow existing rules, namely taking a COVID-19 PCR test:

  • Within 24 hours of arrival
  • Between Day 5 and 7 after entering Victoria

Conclusion

The introduction of a self-isolation requirement is a hammer blow to Singaporeans looking forward to year-end trips to Australia, but it appears the government is taking no chances.

For what it’s worth, we should know within the next few weeks how serious the Omicron variant is, and if it turns out to be much ado about nothing, then I expect we’ll revert to the status quo. 

In the meantime, I’d watch the news carefully, and if you’re scheduled to fly in the next few days or weeks, it’d be good to re-evaluate your plans.

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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James Quek

What a show stopper.

Shaun

I literally just redeemed my tickets and this news broke.

Jack

My flight is tomorrow, even worse

Shaun

Ouch…that really sucked. We are all now caught between a rock and a hard place. Only just how far are you away from the rock and the hard place.

Last edited 10 months ago by Shaun
Priscilla

Did you decide to continue to fly to Melbourne? I’m just wondering how they are enforcing this 72 hrs isolation. My flight is on 4 Dec and i’m exploring my options now (really frustrated as my airbnb is non refundable at this point – $2.6K paid). If you had decided to go, please do share how they enforce the 72 hrs. For eg, do they allow you to still use car rentals, where to take PCR test (do they come to you to do it or you must find your way to a clinic) and how do i know that… Read more »

Priscilla

thanks for sharing !! Oh my, I really hope it is just 72hrs and that’s it! How they check if you really isolate – police random checks?

Wow your Airbnb host is really nice! So rare that they will even offer to drive you to take pcr test, especially this period.

Hang in there and hope you get to enjoy the rest of ur trip!

for me, I’m goin to wait till tomorrow to see what Melbourne authorities decide to do next (apparently they are having meetings today and tomorrow to define next steps). Hope they can provide more clarity!!!

Anna

Just sharing my experience…flew in frm Sg on 29 Nov and was told to self isolate for 72 hrs…although no one is checking…we asked if we can take our rental car and no one had answers so we did it anyway since it was at the airport…checked in our hotel and went out again fr our swab test…and sneaked some groceries for the nxt 3 days… and yes the fines are high so another 48 hrs for us as well…

Pearly

I just saw this online – NSW and Victoria will continue with the 72 hrs isolation. No extensions on quarantine period.
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-30/covid-updates-who-omicron-coronavirus-variant-borders/100660024?utm_campaign=abc_news_web&utm_content=link&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_news_web

I guess that’s good news for you both!

Fel

Hey Aaron, do u know if we are able to isolate with the travelling party in a private AirBnb apartment? I.e 2 of us stay in isolation in the same apartment for 72hrs together?

Fel

Thanks Aaron, I guess my question was more alluding to whether my travel partner and I can isolate in the same Airbnb? Seems like it is ok from the State website 🙂

Bails form Oz

I imagine Singapore is likely to re-evaluate their position due to the South Africa mutation spreading quite quickly.

Terri

Does Victoria state what kind of transport we should take to our accomodation for self isolation? Otherwise I’ll take the airport express. Bus to southern cross instead of renting a car.

Alex

Sigh! Booked an Airbnb for just two nights and the host doesn’t have additional availability. Guess we’ll have to source for alternative accommodation? Agree with other readers that the part about “pending further health advice” is worrying too.

Rules

I flew into Sydney 10 days ago. No checks. No health advice. Nothing. I was told the rules had changed and no test was required! Later I phoned NSW health and was told I needed to take a PCR test within 24 hours and isolate pending the result. Didn’t seem very uniform. Arriving back into Singapore was exactly as expected and much more structured than Sydney.

YLL

Hello! Just to share. I just flew into Sydney today (29 Nov). Like what the others have already said, immigration was a breeze, I didn’t even get asked for vaccination cert or anything health related. Only question was whether I travelled to South Africa in the past 14 days. There is free on-arrival testing that you can do at the airport – it was just difficult to find because not every staff in the airport knows (I asked 4) and there was no signage. International arrival is at T1 – The testing area for arrivals is at a big white… Read more »

Lim

Hi could u share ur quarrantine experience? How did they enforce it? Were there any checks? Thnaks

Mileshedgehog

It seems that the 72 hour isolation is time bought to determine if anyone on the flight has Omicron?

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/all-staff-on-sia-flight-from-spore-to-sydney-that-had-two-cases-of-omicron-covid-19-strain

Hao Zheng

if I don’t have any friends living in Sydney and it says I need “private transport” direct to my accommodations, does Uber count as private transport?

lim

Hi could u share ur quarrantine experience? How did they enforce it? Were there any checks? Thnaks

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