It’s important to carefully consider the risks of travelling while COVID-19 remains a threat to Australia.
Whether your travel is for work, family or personal reasons, or you are looking forward to a holiday, it’s important to understand the border and public health restrictions that may impact you and to carefully weigh up the risks and benefits of any travel you intend to undertake.
An overview of travel risks
One feature of the COVID-19 pandemic that has remained certain is that things can, and do change quickly. New cases of COVID-19 remain a threat to jurisdictions across Australia and recent outbreaks interstate have demonstrated how quickly new cases can spread. When cases occur in any community, new restrictions may be introduced quickly and border entry requirements can change within just a few hours. If you are interstate when this happens it may have an impact on the rest of your trip or your ability to easily return to Tasmania.
As we continue to live with the impacts of COVID-19 it is important to understand that any travel comes with a number of risks, including:
- financial impacts (e.g. if your flights change, event/experience is cancelled or you are required to enter mandatory hotel quarantine and pay a fee)
- limits placed on your movements such as an inability to travel into or out of a lockdown area, cancellation of your travel permit/pass (including your Tas e-Travel or G2G pass for return to Tasmania), reduced flights or sailings back to Tasmania and;
- limited access to businesses and services where you are (e.g. in the event of a lockdown).
Before you travel
Your travel planning should always take into account what you will do if you have to extend your stay at your destination and/or must quarantine when you return home. Needing to quarantine is always a risk of any travel you undertake therefore, it is advisable that you do not travel if you cannot undertake quarantine. Here are some questions to ask yourself and discuss with those who may be impacted by a change in your plans before you depart.
- Is my travel necessary? Do I need to travel at this time?
- If I need to change plans/cancel with short notice, how will this impact me?
- What plans do I have in place for work/study and my personal responsibilities if I am stranded in another jurisdiction for longer than I planned or need to quarantine when I get home?
- If my travel plans change or I need to quarantine, who else might be impacted and what does this mean? e.g. missing important family events or your children being unable to attend school if they are subject to quarantine.
- If I need to quarantine when I return, is my premises suitable for this and do the people I live with feel comfortable with this?
- If I need to quarantine in a government hotel and pay a quarantine fee, do I have the means to cover this?
- What is my risk of severe illness if I was to contract COVID-19 whilst travelling somewhere that potentially exposes me to cases?
Stay informed about the situation in the days leading up to your planned departure date. Check the COVID status of your destination frequently, as well as the locations you will need to travel through e.g. if you need to change flights in another jurisdiction. If circumstances change before you depart e.g. new cases occur or restrictions are introduced at your destination, you may want to reconsider your trip.
Where can I get the latest information about travelling to other states and territories?
All jurisdictions require visitors to review information about their border entry requirements. Many states and territories require visitors to apply for a travel permit or pass. In Tasmania, this is the Tas e-Travel system. Please visit the relevant websites below for more information.
During your travel
If you’re already in another jurisdiction and COVID-19 restrictions or border changes come into effect, you might want to return home earlier than planned. Whether you can do this will depend on availability of flights/sailings, and the travel restrictions in your current jurisdiction and the place you want to return to.
See more about travelling to Tasmania on the Coming to Tasmania page. This is updated regularly and all high and medium-risk areas are premises are listed on the accompanying Travel Alert page. Regardless of whether you experience any changes to your travel plans, you must register your travel to Tasmania.
If you’ve been in a high-risk premises (an identified place visited by a COVID case) you may have to isolate in that jurisdiction and won’t be allowed to travel to Tasmania for up to 14 days from exposure.
If you’ve spent any time in an area that’s declared medium or high-risk, you may not be allowed to enter Tasmania or you may have to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive. You may need to apply for Essential Traveller status in order to enter Tasmania but it is important not to assume that this status will be granted in all cases. Don’t depend on it when making your travel plans. You cannot enter Tasmania until you have been approved to do so, even if you have a booking. You can be fined if you do not have an approved travel pass when you arrive.
The risk level of an area can change with only a few hours’ notice, meaning you won’t always have time to travel to Tasmania before a declaration comes into effect. If a change happens while you’re travelling e.g. while your plane is in the air or during your Bass Strait crossing on the Spirit of Tasmania, you will need to abide by the new conditions when you arrive.
Even after you arrive in Tasmania, you could still be impacted by COVID-19 restrictions because of cases that are detected later in the places you were at interstate. There are times when premises and areas are declared high or medium risk and anyone who was in those areas/premises (up to 14 days prior) might be required to isolate and/or get tested for COVID-19. Sometimes impacted people may also be asked to wear a mask or limit their movement in the community. It is a good idea to stay informed about the COVID-19 situation interstate in the 14 days after you arrive in Tasmania. Check the Travel Alert page for any premises/area listings that may impact you.
How can I reduce the risks associated with travel?
It is not possible to ensure that your travel is risk-free at this time. Stay prepared for the possibility that new restrictions and border requirements could impact you any time you are outside Tasmania. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t travel but being aware of the risks means you can make an informed decision about what is right for you.
There are some practical ways to stay prepared if you do choose to travel:
- Have a small supply of face masks with you. Masks are required for airports/ports, planes and on board the Spirit of Tasmania but could become essential if you find yourself in a lockdown or area where COVID cases are circulating in the community.
- When packing essential items, such as medication, it is a good idea to pack more than you will need for the duration of your trip. If you use prescription medications, take a prescription with you. Finding a GP away from home (particularly in the event of a lockdown) can present some challenges so it makes sense to plan ahead and pack extra supplies.
- Have a plan about what you will do if things change whilst you are away. It is a good idea to discuss this with your family/people you live with e.g. will you try to get home early? Wait it out? Are you eligible to apply for Essential Traveller status? Is quarantining at home suitable for you and safe for the people you live with? When things change suddenly, it’s easy to become overwhelmed – having an idea of how you might approach the situation can help you stay calm and focused on a resolution.
- When booking your travel consider the refund policies associated with your travel. If you can, it’s a good idea to book flights and accommodation that allow for last minute cancellation or alternations or, take out travel insurance for your trip. It is up to the individual to cover the costs of any changes to their travel so it pays to plan for change.