State and territory leaders — with one notable exception — have agreed to develop a road map out of hard border regimes, with the view to seeing Australia reopened by Christmas.

What’s more, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that as most of Australia moves towards worrying about coronavirus hotspots rather than hard borders, New Zealand could be included in the mix.

But that wouldn’t allow for Australians to fly across the ditch.

Here’s everything you need to know about borders both near and far.

Can I go home for Christmas?

If “home” is WA, then it’s looking unlikely.

The western state, which has one of the strictest and longest-standing hard borders in the country, has declined to sign up for easing its restrictions any time soon.

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WA Premier Mark McGowan says it’s premature to set a border deadline.

But the leaders from the rest of the country will work towards having domestic borders open by the end of the year.

There are no guarantees in that, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the plan is to move towards a more refined hotspot model, rather than blanket border closures.

So what have they agreed to?

There’s not a heap of detail about what’s been agreed to today, but if you cast your mind back to May, you’ll remember we once had a nationally agreed three-step plan for easing restrictions.

Mr Morrison said that, broadly, a similar principle would be in place, with states reaching the end of that three-step process by December.

A definition of a “hotspot” was presented to leaders today, and Mr Morrison said it would be used as a starting point for concocting a hotspot-based approach for allowing people to move across the country.

Today’s agreement, Mr Morrison said, was about showing in-principle support for developing a plan to reopen most of the country by Christmas.

What about New Zealand?

A travel bubble with New Zealand has long been canvassed but it was put on the backburner when a second wave outbreak hit Victoria.

New Zealanders may be able to avoid hotel quarantine when coming to Australia.(AP: Mark Baker)

Mr Morrison said he called New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday morning to say that he would include her country in any hotspot approach Australia agrees to.

“That means, when we’re in a position to do so, and when the Acting Chief Medical Officer has come to a set of arrangements with New Zealand, then we would be able to have New Zealanders come to Australia,” he said.

“But if there’s no COVID in Christchurch, and there’s no COVID in Queensland, then there’s no reason both of them can’t come to Sydney.”

But just don’t call it a bubble.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily it will be a two-way bubble. That will be up to the New Zealanders.”

Like domestic travellers, New Zealanders wouldn’t have to undergo mandatory hotel quarantine when they enter Australia.

What about other international travellers?

For now at least, the cap on arrivals into Australia, currently set at about 4,000 per week, remains unchanged.

But the Prime Minister did flag efforts to redirect flights destined for Sydney to other parts of the country, which could, in turn, boost the number of people allowed into the country each week.

“We want to get more Australians home,” he said.

“And we need to do that safely as well, and not compromise the quarantine arrangements we have here as well.”

New South Wales has taken the majority of inbound travellers into its hotel quarantine system, and Mr Morrison said the state remained at capacity for the time being.


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