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Australia VTL: Sydney & Melbourne relax international arrival test to self-swab ART

Great news: Those landing in Sydney or Melbourne from Singapore on or after 31st December 2021 will only need to conduct a self-swab ART test to be free from self-isolation in 15-30 minutes.

Update 31 Dec: Victoria state (Melbourne) has followed suit to match the New South Wales (Sydney) requirement for only an on-arrival self-swab ART test. NSW has reinstated a Day 6 test requirement (ART), which apparently got accidentally deleted in their update yesterday!

Two weeks ago we reported how both New South Wales and Victoria states in Australia had relaxed their 72-hour self-isolation requirement for international arrivals to a new regime allowing travellers freedom after they received the results of a PCR test (typically 24 hours).

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The previous improvement to requirements took effect from Tuesday 21st December 2021, but now both states have confirmed that from 31st December 2021 international arrivals, including Singapore citizens travelling “quarantine-free” into Australia will be able to benefit from an even more relaxed testing regime.

Self-swab ART is now accepted

From Friday 31st December 2021, arriving passengers in Sydney and Melbourne will only be required to take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT, which Singapore calls ART) test as soon as possible within 24 hours after arrival.

Update: New South Wales and Victoria now state a requirement to complete the test within 24 hours of arrival (NSW originally only said “as soon as practicable”, which was a little vague).

“From 12:01am on 31 December, fully vaccinated international passengers arriving in NSW must get a COVID-19 rapid antigen test within 24 hours of arriving in NSW (and can stop self-isolating once they receive a negative result from this test)”

New South Wales Government

They will then be free to exit self-isolation and enjoy their visit once a negative result is received.

For most people, that will mean only being restricted to their home or hotel room for the 15-30 minutes a self-administered RAT (ART) test takes, since there is no requirement for this test to be professionally administered.

“You must take a rapid antigen test as soon as practicable [and within 24 hours] after your arrival in NSW. A rapid antigen test is a self-test you can do at home.”

New South Wales Government

Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated travellers will still have to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in NSW.

It’s not yet clear whether Victoria (i.e. Melbourne) will follow suit with a similar relaxation.

Update: Victoria has similarly relaxed its post-arrival testing requirements to effectively match those of NSW.



 


 

Approved RAT (ART) tests

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) oversees the conditions of supply for rapid antigen test kits.

For the post-arrival test you must use a self-test kit that has been approved by the TGA, with a full list of all home use tests here, also including a copy of the manufacturer’s instructions for each test (though these are in the pack too).

Australia, like Singapore, maintains a list of approve RAT (ART) test kits for COVID-19.

You can bring these test kits to Australia with you and use them when you reach your home or hotel, provided they are on the approved list, or purchase them at a pharmacy after arrival.

Day 6 test (Sydney)

When New South Wales first updated its requirements for post-arrival ART testing from 31st December 2021, all reference to a Day 6 test had been removed.

This has now been reinstated, however, with a second RAT (ART) self-swab required.

“You must take another rapid antigen test on or after day 6. You must not go to aged care, health care, disability care and correctional facilities for at least 7 days after arrival and your test results are negative.”

New South Wales Government

Day 5-7 test (Melbourne)

Victoria has also retained its Day 5 to Day 7 post-arrival test requirement, though this too can now be a rapid self-test.

“Get another PCR test or a Rapid Antigen Test between day 5 and 7 after arriving in Australia. This applies if you are still in Victoria, and you haven’t had this test elsewhere in Australia. You don’t have to quarantine while awaiting the result of the Day 5-7 test.”

Victoria Government
Those arriving in Melbourne will also be required to take a rapid self-test between Day 5 and Day 7. (Photo: Shutterstock)

New Singapore – Australia process

Here’s the new process when travelling from Singapore to Australia (NSW or VIC) with arrival on or after 31st December 2021:

  • PCR test within 72 hours of flight departure time (find the cheapest here)
  • Complete the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before flight departure
  • RAT (ART) test within 24 hours after arrival
  • Self-isolation until negative test result received (home / hotel room)
  • RAT (ART) test on Day 6 (NSW) or between Day 5 and Day 7 (VIC), with arrival being Day 0

Again it’s worth clarifying here that the time for an ART kit to generate a result is typically 15 minutes.

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Full information on international arrival requirements into these two states is available at the following links:

Western Australia is also opening its border quarantine-free to fully vaccinated international travellers from 5th February 2022, however full details of any self-isolation requirement following the mandatory on-arrival (PCR) test have not yet been confirmed.



 


 

Summary

More good news for those with Australia (Sydney or Melbourne) travel plans, or for Aussies in Singapore returning home, with a near-zero self-isolation requirement for those touching down from 31st December 2021.

Self-swabs are supported in Australia for RAT (ART) tests, provided you use a kit from a provider on the approved list, which should mean almost immediate freedom from any isolation requirement.

This makes leisure trips to these two cities very much worth considering again, for those who may have thought against it when the previous arrival isolation requirements were in force.

Those arriving in Sydney from Singapore will enjoy almost immediate freedom under the new rules. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Sadly this policy shift came a little too late for those travelling to Sydney for Christmas and New Year, but it’s still progress in the right direction nonetheless, as Australia embraces a ‘living with the virus’ ethos, regardless of inevitable Omicron spread.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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