australia's borders reopen
When will Australia's borders reopen? Source: Peter Parks/AFP

When will Australia’s borders reopen for international students? Sydney is piloting a home quarantine plan for vaccinated travellers, signalling a closer step towards international borders reopening. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a media release New South Wales and Commonwealth governments will launch a home quarantine pilot in Greater Sydney next month as NSW transitions towards opening up international borders. 

So, what can international students expect about Australia’s borders reopening moving forward? Here’s what we know:

Australia's borders reopen

“NSW looks forward to reopening and to accepting a greater number of international arrivals,” said Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres. Source: Saeed Khan/AFP

Vaccination will be required 

The pilot will be operated and monitored by NSW Health and NSW Police, and will trial a seven-day home quarantine programme for around 175 people. Those with Therapeutic Goods Administration-accredited COVID-19 vaccine will participate in the pilot. Currently, vaccines approved by TGA include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

Quarantining in Australia 

For the pilot, participants will be selected by NSW Health, based on a risk assessment framework, and may include some NSW residents, some non-Australian residents and some Qantas aircrew. The isolation period will also be reduced from 14 to seven days. “The pilot programme is being run in partnership with the Commonwealth government and findings will inform future quarantine programmes,” said Morrison. 

Australia's borders reopen

More international arrivals are possible if the pilot goes to plan, according to Ayres. Source: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

So, when will Australia’s borders reopen?

Australia shut its borders to most international travellers in March last year. Speaking on the home quarantine plan, Morrison said, “This is the next step in our plan to safely reopen, and to stay safely open.” The trial could set the standard for the way “we live with COVID-19,” he added.

He had previously said that the national plan allows for states that had 80% of its adults fully vaccinated to resume international travel even if other states had not. Western Australia is among the states with a hard stance on border reopening to the rest of the country and the world. 

So, there’s no definitive timeline to the question of when will Australia’s border reopen, but more international arrivals could be on the horizon for NSW. Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the NSW government would rapidly scale up international arrivals if the pilot goes to plan while hotel quarantine arrangements will remain for the unvaccinated.

Ayres said, “NSW looks forward to reopening and to accepting a greater number of international arrivals. Now is the ideal time to pilot a home quarantine solution as we transition towards opening up.” The pilot will run from later this month and operate for four weeks.