explainer

The question everyone is asking: What is Christmas going to look like?

There are 66 days until Christmas.

And, as it stands, we have nine leaders offering us differing perspectives on what Christmas Day is going to look like. 

If the Prime Minister had his way, all borders would be lifted ahead of December 25 in line with the Federal Government's roadmap out of lockdown. 

As he told Weekend Sunrise, "There comes a time when you’ve got to honour the arrangement you’ve made with the Australian people, and that is when you get to 80 per cent vaccination, it’s very clear that you can start opening up."

The PM on Sunrise. Post continues after video.


Video via Sunrise.

"I think that puts the big challenge on the premiers. I mean, they've had the power to do what they’ve been doing. They’re not new powers. They’ve always had them. But, you know, there comes a time when you just got to move on and get on with it," he added. 

Now Queensland has decided to let down its borders ahead of Christmas, all eyes are on Western Australia as they enjoy COVID-free and restriction-free life with hardline borders erected around them. 

As constitutional law expert Kim Rubenstein told The Project last month, "The whole constitution was framed and motivated by a desire for freedom of travel amongst the country, because the colonies were finding it dysfunctional to have different barriers around trade. So I placed there section 92 to discourage any restriction of travel within Australia."

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She explains that the states refusing to open up could be at risk of legal challenge. Basically, anyone who is impacted by these restrictions who can prove there's been a disproportional burden on trade, can take the state (or territory) to court. 

Ms Rubenstein wouldn't be surprised to see something like that eventuate in the coming months as borders remain one of the most political and divisive topics right now in Australian politics. 

Here's how Christmas is shaping up in your state or territory.

International travel.

New South Wales was the first jurisdiction to announce quarantine-free international arrivals, with fully vaccinated citizens, permanent residents and their families able to come and go from the state from November 1.

The ACT followed suit, announcing fully vaccinated international arrivals will also be exempt from quarantine requirements there, from the same date to align with NSW.

There's a possibility you'll also be able to fly into Queensland quarantine-free - provided you're fully vaccinated, and the state hits 90 per cent double dose on December 14 as predicted bycovidlive.com.au.

If they only reach 80 per cent, overseas visitors will have to home quarantine. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has suggested the state will axe hotel quarantine for fully vaccinated international arrivals and move to a home-based program, but there is no date as of yet. 

It has been suggested this might be unlocked at 80 per cent. 

South Australia is on track to hit the 80 per cent double dose vaccination target in early December, which they've also indicated will trigger international travel. It's likely you'll have to quarantine at home, however.

It's likely Tassie, WA, and the Northern Territory won't have relaxed their international borders by Christmas. 

Queensland.

Queensland has released its COVID roadmap to reopening, with the plan allowing fully vaccinated families to reunite for Christmas. 

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Once the state hits 80 per cent double vaccination, you can enter from a hotspot by road or air if you're fully vaccinated. 

You don't have to quarantine, but you do have to produce a negative COVID test in your first 72 hours in the state. 

Western Australia.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has said people from New South Wales and Victoria will not be allowed into Western Australia for Christmas even if they are fully vaccinated.

It is estimated WA will hit an 80 per cent vaccination rate by December, but Mr McGowan said he doesn't want to "ruin Christmas" for West Australians by having to possibly reinstate measures such as wearing masks.

"Imagine if we opened up like they're proposing to do before Christmas and we have to put in place mask wearing requirements and restrictions on the number of people going to restaurants and cafes, how many people can come to Christmas lunch.

"Setting out the timetable Queensland has is not something we're going to do."  

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He previously said when WA reached that milestone he would "consider" bringing the hard border down, but has now suggested travel between hotspot states won't be on the table until 2022. 

"Our approach will remain cautious and careful. But ultimately, very safe. That is why border controls with New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria, will remain in place," he said on Tuesday.

He has, however, announced a downgrading of the state’s border rules with Queensland, allowing travel between the two states from Friday morning.

The ACT is currently considered 'medium risk', while Queensland is 'low risk'.

Queensland will be in the green category by Friday. Image: WA government.

Medium risk means you can enter, but have to self-quarantine for two weeks, whereas low risk means you must produce a negative COVID test prior to flying and after flying.

Queensland will be considered "very low risk" by the weekend, in line with South Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory.

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NSW.

From December 1, unvaccinated people in NSW will be able to participate in public events and re-enter society. 

Right now only double vaccinated residents can enjoy the 80 per cent freedoms, with regional and international travel unlocked on November 1. 

So Christmas for the people of New South Wales will look pretty normal, without any restrictions on gathering numbers. There will, however, be restrictions on interstate family. 

Right now, most other states and territories have restrictions on travellers from NSW, so while you might be able to get into the state, you could (and in some jurisdictions, will) get stuck trying to go home. 

The ACT, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia have all indicated they will be open to the state for Christmas. 

Victoria.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is aiming to have a Christmas "as close to normal as possible."

In announcing the state's roadmap out of lockdown last month, he said "we aim to have 30 visitors to your home on Christmas Day."

The state has already fast-tracked their roadmap out of lockdown, with its sixth lockdown lifting five days early this week. 

After 80 per cent is reached, intrastate travel will be allowed. Right now that milestone is due on October 31 which means Victorians spread out across the state will be able to share the same Christmas table. But there will likely be restrictions on numbers. 

Victoria has already reopened their borders to fully vaccinated travellers from Sydney. 

South Australia.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall says he will look to reopen the state borders and move away from state lockdowns once 80 per cent of the eligible population has been vaccinated. 

Mr Marshall said reaching the vaccination target would be key to South Australians being reunited with loved ones interstate this Christmas. 

"I think people, this Christmas, can look forward to having people coming from interstate to spend time with them," he said earlier this month.

"People can have some confidence that as we get closer to Christmas there will be pathways for people to come back, and that we'll also be avoiding statewide lockdowns."

He suggested, however, that while the state would move away from whole state lockdowns, it would still enforce more LGA and exposure based exclusions once that level of vaccination coverage is reached. That means parts of NSW, Victoria and the ACT could still be locked out for Christmas if they have high numbers of the virus still circulating.

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"There may also be some proviso put in place around people who are double vaccinated or have no vaccination status whatsoever," he said.

Details of the above are due to be released "within days."

The state is expected to hit 80 per cent double jab rates on November 26.

Tasmania. 

Tasmanian authorities have suggested that the state will remain closed off to the rest of Australia beyond the 80 per cent double vaccination rates.

Last month, the director of Public Health, Mark Veitch, said while he could not give a precise vaccination target yet, the "closer to 90 per cent… the better". 

The state is due to hit 80 around November 7 and 90 around November 24. 

When Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff was asked directly if Tasmanians should expect to see the state's borders open by Christmas, he was non-committal.

"Tasmanians should expect that we'll make the decisions and calls necessary to ensure we keep Tasmanians safe," he replied.

"While we're sticking with the national plan, we also must take into account our own circumstances within Tasmania, and that's why we've also been very clear that we'll be guided, alongside the national plan, with the best of Public Health advice.

"I know Tasmanians would like to return to life as normal as possible, but we must always make sure that the number one priority is the health and safety of Tasmanians."

The Northern Territory and WA is currently the only jurisdiction listed on the Tasmanian government's website as 'low risk'. 

Image: Tasmanian Government.

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All other states have either some or all of their jurisdiction listed as 'high risk, Level 1' or 'high risk, Level 2' which either denies you entry or only allows entry if you're an essential traveller.

Northern Territory. 

Under the Northern Territory's stage 3 roadmap, triggered when the Territory reaches 80 per cent full vaccination, travellers from declared COVID hotspots must undergo 14 days self-quarantine — even if they are fully vaccinated. 

Unvaccinated travellers from red zones will be banned from entering the NT altogether, unless they have a pre-approved reason for travel, such as essential work.

Vaccinated travellers from orange zones, which will be areas with medium-level COVID risk, will have to self-isolate until they return a negative COVID test. 

The NT won't reach the 80 per cent figure until approximately December 14. 

The government has also flagged a yet-to-be-determined fee for home quarantine, which will cover the cost of compliance checks and a digital monitoring app.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner also announced that all workers across high-risk settings in the Northern Territory must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the Territory will change its border policies.

Internal travel restrictions could be introduced as soon as next month, to isolate remote communities where vaccination rates are below the 80-90 per cent target.

The government is expected to lay out clearer timelines in coming weeks.

ACT.

By the end of November, all public health restrictions in the ACT will align with the national plan so Christmas Day itself will allow large events and gatherings and only minimal density requirements for businesses. 

ACT residents will be allowed to travel freely within NSW, including the Greater Sydney area, from November 1, without having to quarantine on their return to the territory. 

Victorians still have to quarantine on arrival for the time being, however, it's highly likely this will be lifted in time for Christmas. 

This article was originally published on September 28, and updated on October 20. 

Feature image: Getty/Mamamia

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