Changes coming to Australia today
The removal of our domestic border closures has been high on the Christmas wishlists of many Aussie families - and now, after months of FaceTime calls and cancelled flights, the controversial measure will come to an end.
A raft of New South Wales' remaining COVID-19 measures will be rolled back today, December 1 - but it's Queensland's hard border with Victoria and greater Sydney finally coming down, and South Australia opening its doors to Victoria, that will likely spark the most excitement, just in time for the festive season.
"We know how tough this has been on families," Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told reporters last week, when she made the long-awaited announcement.
"I hope this is welcome news for Queensland families in time for Christmas," she said.
Here are all the rule changes coming to Australia from today.
QUEENSLAND BORDER OPEN AFTER 250 DAYS
Out of all of the nation's domestic border closures, none proved more controversial than Ms Palaszczuk's.
The Queensland Premier's hard border stance - which has, in one way or another, been in place for 250 days - has been a hallmark of the pandemic, as has her bitter war of words with her NSW counterpart, Gladys Berejiklian, over the measure.
But now, after four months, Sydneysiders will be allowed to enter the Sunshine State without being required to quarantine first, with NSW less than a week away from meeting Queensland's previous 28 days with zero community transmission requirement.
Meanwhile, Victorians - who have been barred from Queensland since March 25 - will also be permitted to visit the state without a two-week stay in hotel quarantine, having now gone a month without community transmission.
Ms Palaszczuk shared the news with Australians last Tuesday, saying the Queenslanders "absolutely want to see our tourism industry continue to flourish and prosper".
"From the reef to the rainforest and from Coolangatta to the Cape, Queensland really does have something for everyone," she said.
"There's nothing better than Christmas holidays in the Sunshine State. If you're living in NSW and Victoria and you're looking for a holiday, we're urging you to come to Queensland where life is beautiful one day and perfect the next."
The Queensland border is now only closed to residents living in Adelaide, with Ms Palaszczuk saying last week health authorities were "still waiting to see how their outbreak unfolds".
South Australians from areas classified as a hot spot are required to quarantine for 14 days in a hotel if they travel to Queensland.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S BORDER OPEN TO VICTORIA
In more border news, Victorians will also be welcomed back to South Australia for the first time, three months after the border was closed due to the former's horror second wave.
"So from December 1, we will completely normalise our border arrangements with Victoria and this will be a huge relief for many people who have been adversely affected by these border restrictions," SA's Health Minister Stephen Wade told reporters last week.
As for South Australians travelling to Victoria, they will still require a permit to enter the state unless an exemption applies.
Permits can be obtained for any reason - unless someone has travelled to a site of exposure in South Australia.
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RESTRICTIONS LOOSENED IN NSW
In more good news for NSW residents, a range of the state's remaining coronavirus measures were rolled back from 11.59pm Monday night.
However, the Premier has warned people not to become complacent - especially considering the state's continued streak of no community transmission of the virus.
"Given we have gone a certain number of days without community transmission, it does reduce our concern in that regard," Ms Berejiklian told reporters.
"(But) my strong message to the people of NSW is please let us not let our guard down. We have come too far to let complacency get the better of us."
The cap on public outdoor gatherings will be increased from 30 people to 50, while residents can host up to 30 people inside their homes and 50 people if the gathering is occurring outdoors, including private gardens.
The capacity at restaurants, bars and cafes will also be increased, with venues that have up to 200sq m of floor space expected to adhere to the 2sq m rule when patrons are indoors.
For anyone hoping to get in the festive spirit, ticketed outdoor events - like Christmas carols - will be permitted to go ahead with up to 3000 people permitted to attend. The one person per 2sq m rule will apply if there is allocated seating, while those sitting on picnic rugs will be required to sit a minimum 4sq m apart from each other.
Up to 300 mourners will also be allowed at funerals, bringing the restrictions in line with those applied at weddings and funerals.
More restrictions will ease in NSW from December 14, when the public health order requiring employers to allow employees to work from home comes to an end.
Originally published as Changes coming to Australia today