Victoria has completely thrown open its border to NSW, even to those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Premier Daniel Andrews and NSW counterpart Dominic Perrottet issued a joint statement on Thursday night announcing the states would open their borders to each other from Friday.
Travel between the two states had already been unrestricted for the fully vaccinated from Monday.
But from 11.59pm on Thursday, all remaining NSW and ACT orange zones were downgraded to green under Victoria‘s travel permit system.
“This means, for the first time in more than six months in Victoria, all local government areas in all states and territories across Australia will be green zones for the purposes of entering Victoria,” the joint statement said.
The change allows all travellers and workers to enter Victoria without any testing or quarantine requirements, including unvaccinated people, if they apply for a permit beforehand to verify they are not COVID-positive or a close contact.
Fully vaccinated Victorians can also freely travel into NSW unless they’ve been to a place of high concern, but those over 16 who are not double-dosed still cannot for recreation or a holiday.
Mr Perrottet said the “free travel” announcement showed the path back to normality, while his Victorian counterpart thanked those on both sides of the border for rolling up their sleeves to get vaccinated.
“Victoria and New South Wales have been through so much over the last few months, and we’re pleased that more families will now be able to reunite just in time for Christmas and the holiday season,” Mr Andrews said.
Meanwhile, Victoria is keen to start vaccinating currently ineligible primary school-age children against COVID-19 before classes wrap up this year.
Premier Daniel Andrews flagged he will raise the issue of child vaccines at Friday’s national cabinet meeting, after US regulators approved the Pfizer jab for five to 11-year-olds.
“Hopefully our federal government’s doing the same, and they can make announcements quite soon about vaccinating our kids,” he told reporters on Thursday.
He said it would be preferable for children under 12 to have at least their first dose before summer holidays begin.
The premier also plans to ask about booster vaccines and isolation requirements, as state and territory leaders meet for the first time since October 1.
It comes as Victoria recorded 1247 new locally acquired COVID-19 infections and another nine deaths on Thursday, with the state now managing 17,674 active cases.