Let me invite you in to a conversation had by my colleagues this morning:
Person A: I'm so confused, is the Central Coast part of regional NSW?
Person B: Not anymore. We were part of Greater Sydney, then we weren't, now we are again.
Person A: Wait.. so I can go there?
Person B: I'm pretty sure...
Person C: I already went there this weekend. You can!
It's a conversation that's being repeated in group chats around the country as Australians work out the logistics of what they can, and can't do under the spate of new border rules and travel restrictions announced over the past week.
Australia is opening up for those who are fully vaccinated, and it's very exciting for those of us who have been separated from families and locked down in our homes.
BUT. As the states and territories continue to run their own race and implement their own rules, it's left us all with the most bizarre new realities.
ABC data analyst Casey Briggs attempted to explain with a map:
bit going on with border rules today (map not to scale) pic.twitter.com/P9NkWJDbu3— casey briggs (@CaseyBriggs) October 15, 2021
The regions are staying closed off to the cities as they play catch up with vaccination rates, and as of November 1 international Australians, but not tourists as Perrottet confirmed (and then the PM denied), can come through (only) NSW if they're fully vaccinated.
It's a lot.
To help paint the picture, here are just 11 things the Mamamia community can and can't do as we venture into this next stage of reopening.
- From midnight October 19, I can fly from Sydney to Melbourne to see my in-laws without having to quarantine, but I am not allowed to leave Greater Sydney to travel to Newcastle to see my parents for another fortnight. Once in Victoria, however, I can't get back to Sydney without quarantining.
- Shell is in Wollongong. She is allowed to travel two hours away to Sydney. But she can't see her family 25 minutes south in Kiama or Jamberoo until November 1.
- Claire is in regional NSW. She can fly to Victoria for a holiday, but she can't drive to Sydney to see friends for another two weeks.
- Gemma is in north-west NSW. She can drive around Sydney to see her family on the NSW South Coast, but she's not allowed to stop at her home in the city on the way. But she can in two weeks.
- Penny visited Sydney from the NSW/Victoria border bubble last Friday for a funeral. She has to isolate for 14 days. Last week she sent two apprentices to Melbourne for training from the same bubble, who just have to take a test before they're free to move around.
- Tim can come home from America via NSW on November 1, and enter Melbourne via a domestic flight. But he can't fly direct to Victoria.
- Kira's aunt who lives in NSW but works in the ACT can travel to Melbourne to visit their family without quarantining on return. But Kira, who lives in the ACT, would have to quarantine for 14 days.
- Lucy lives in regional NSW and will be allowed to see her family who live four hours away on the Central Coast for the first time in almost six months on 1 November, on the same day that Australians can return from overseas without quarantine.
- Naomi is in WA, and doesn't have a date in sight as to when she can visit other states. But NSW is opening internationally in a month.
- Siobhan's parents can come and visit her in Sydney from the UK from November 1, but she can't nominate any other family members to travel over, despite being closer to them.
- Trish's husband is stuck in NSW. From Nov 1 he will be able to fly to visit family in Ireland and back to Sydney without having to quarantine, but won't be able to go home to Adelaide.
And it goes on and on and on.
Of course, these rules are there for a reason. They've been carefully crafted around vaccination rates and case numbers to make sure those areas with lower percentages aren't inundated with COVID-19, while large proportions of their populations aren't protected.