Victoria will scrap quarantine for fully-vaccinated international arrivals from 1 November as Australia moves to reopen.

The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, confirmed the move on Friday after Scott Morrison flagged that Australia would soon ease travel restrictions with Singapore and Qantas announced it would bring forward the resumption of international flights.

Qantas announced that 11,000 Australia-based staff will be back at work in early December, with a new route to New Delhi, and flights from Sydney to Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Johannesburg, Fiji resuming ahead of schedule.

Bali could also soon be on Australians’ destination list, with the Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, suggesting flights to the popular beach holiday island could resume before Christmas.

Earlier in October, Australia took two steps to restart international travel, with the New South Wales government announcing vaccinated travellers would be able to come through Sydney without hotel or home quarantine and the Morrison government lifting the outbound travel ban from 1 November.

On Friday, Andrews announced that Victoria will follow suit, ensuring that travellers seeking to return after 1 November “will be able to go home” with “no hotel quarantine” and “no isolation]” at home.

Travellers will need a negative pre-flight Covid test and a further test within 24 hours of returning.

“And the reason for that is that, at 80%, 90% [vaccination rates] - which is where we’re going to get to - we are as protected as we can be,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

According to the national plan, once vaccination rates reach 80% Australia will extend travel bubbles for unrestricted travel to countries including Singapore and the Pacific.

Morrison told reporters in Sydney that Australia was “in the final stages of concluding an arrangement with the Singapore government” to ensure “borders open more quickly to Singapore”.

“We anticipate that being able to be achieved within the next week or so, as we would open up to more visa class holders coming out of Singapore,” he said.

Guardian Australia understands the eased restrictions will only apply to vaccinated travellers, who Morrison said would be able to travel to “those ports here in Australia that will be open in the same way as they are here in Sydney”.

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Qantas revealed flights to Singapore would resume on 23 November, four weeks earlier than scheduled. The airline will operate flights three days a week, ramping up to daily flights from 18 December. Jetstar will fly from Melbourne and Darwin to Singapore from 16 December.

The national carrier also announced it would launch a new route from Sydney to Delhi on 6 December 2021, three return flights a week building to daily flights by the end of the year. The route will operate until at least late March, then be contingent on demand.

In the rest of its updated schedule, Qantas announced:

  • Sydney to Fiji (Nadi) flights will be brought forward to 7 December

  • Sydney to Johannesburg flights will resume on 5 January, three months earlier than scheduled

  • Sydney to Bangkok flights will resume on 14 January, more than two months earlier than scheduled

  • Sydney to Phuket Jetstar flights will resume on 12 January, more than two months earlier than scheduled

At the press conference in Sydney, Joyce expressed hope that Bali could reopen as a destination for vaccinated Australians before Christmas. Morrison said he would speak to Joko Widodo about it next weekend – a “great opportunity” to discuss further eased restrictions.

From 1 November, Qantas flights from Sydney to London via Darwin will resume, the carrier’s first regular long-haul flight since March 2020, with flights to Los Angeles scheduled to resume shortly after.

Earlier this month, Morrison dampened the NSW premier Dominic Perrottet’s announcement of quarantine-free travel to Sydney by warning that Australian citizens, residents and their families would be prioritised over tourists, students and other visa holders.

On Thursday, Morrison said students and skilled migrants would be able to return “in late November and early December” to NSW and other states that ditch quarantine requirements.


Paul Karp

The GuardianTramp

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