The NSW Government is encouraging travel for holidays and recreational purposes from 1 June, a sign life is slowly returning to normal after weeks of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian called it “an opportunity for NSW, no matter which way you look at it”, while ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr has called the development “an important next step” to post-COVID life.
The relaxation of travel restrictions comes just in time for the ACT Reconciliation Day public holiday on 1 June, the national Queen’s Birthday long weekend on 8 June and the ski season.
“NSW’s decision to remove regional travel restrictions from 1 June is an important next step in the gradual and careful re-opening of the tourism economy,” Mr Barr said on Twitter this morning (20 May).
“It will allow a small scale resumption of local tourism with physical distancing and necessary COVID-safe practices in place.”
Ms Berejiklian cautioned that it would still be a holiday like no other.
“Nothing we do is the same during a pandemic,” she said. “You can go on a holiday with your family and friends, but know the holiday you are taking from 1 June will be different to a holiday you have taken before.
“Please take extra care in planning ahead, booking online and making sure you keep away from large crowds, and protect your friends and your family as you are holidaying.”
While Canberrans are expected to flock to the coast after months of travel restrictions from the bushfires and pandemic, anyone displaying cold or flu-like symptoms or who is otherwise unwell is being urged to stay away.
ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has also warned Canberrans about travelling too far away from Canberra, with only Victoria and NSW open to visitors from the Territory.
“Obviously Canberrans should not be planning to travel to Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia anytime soon – all of those jurisdictions that have their borders closed have indicated that those are going to be some of the last restrictions to be lifted,” she said.
“You also need to continue to abide by the gathering rules that are in place in NSW, and those will be potentially lifted to 20 people, but this is not an invitation to bring a whole bunch of people from a lot of different households to spend a weekend together at a coast house.
“Do plan your travel carefully and make sure you are maintaining physical distancing,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
Ms Berejiklian used today’s announcement to call for the complete reopening of state borders, encouraging neighbouring Queensland to remove its travel restrictions to help boost the economy.
“I really do not know what the difference between south-east Queensland and north-east NSW is,” she said.
“NSW will welcome visitors from all across the country.”
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT will follow NSW in welcoming visitors from across Australia when there is a safe opportunity to do so.
“As soon as we think there is a significant opportunity for people to come and holiday in the ACT and enough of our attractions are open, we will be putting a significant investment into promoting the ACT as a tourism destination,” she said.
Further easing of restrictions are expected following the National Cabinet meeting on Friday, 29 May. The meeting will mark three weeks since some social distancing restrictions were eased in the Territory and a fortnight since business restrictions were eased.