ABC cut away from the PM press conference but I am tuning into the live stream.
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet says he will have something to say about people from Victoria being able to go to NSW “very shortly”. He says this was complicated by people in Sydney not being able to visit regional NSW until 1 November.
It seems that 1 November will be the date Victorians will be able to get back to NSW. People from NSW can already travel to Victoria without needing to get tested or isolate.
Singapore travel arrangements to be finalised
Scott Morrison confirms he expects an agreement with Singapore on travel between the two countries in a week or so:
We are in the final stages of concluding an arrangement with the Singapore government. I was in a position, as you know, some months ago when I met with the prime minister of Singapore, prime minister Li in Singapore, to set up a new arrangement which will see our 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 the Singapore. We will see that occur. To those ports here in Australia that will be open in the same way as they are here in Sydney and we would expect to see that align pretty much with the timetable that Qantas has announced today regarding when they will have flights going to Singapore.
Scott Morrison says: “Australia is ready for takeoff.”
Sticking with the metaphor, he says the “ground crew” are the Australian people, for going out to get vaccinated:
Australia is en route to be one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, and here in New South Wales, as well as in the ACT and Victoria charging in behind as well, we are seeing those vaccination rates continue to rise. The national plan was all about opening up Australia safely so we can remain safely open, and that’s what we are seeing here today.
And that means planes get back in the sky, it means people go out and get their hair cut again – as I’m sure they’re doing in large numbers today down in Melbourne and across Victoria. It means that families are coming together again. It means kids are going back to school. It means the reunification of our country which I know we have all been so key to see. That begins with this.
He says both the Victorian and Tasmanian premiers will be making further announcements today.
Qantas to return to 100% of staff levels in January
Alan Joyce says there are discussions with the Indonesian government to open up Bali to vaccinated Australian travellers, with the hope that it could be open before Christmas.
Qantas will also be launching commercial flights to Delhi for the first time in 10 years. This is off the back of Qantas operating repatriation flights during the pandemic on behalf of the Australian government.
Qantas is also trying to bring forward some of its 787 fleet and, once domestic borders are open, the company will be able to bring back its staff to 100% of pre-Covid levels by January, and 120% by April.
All 5,000 staff who have been stood down during the pandemic will be able to return to work by early December, Joyce says.
PM press conference begins
Prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking from Hangar 96 in Sydney with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and NSW premier Dominic Perrottet.
Joyce says the last 20 months has been “the darkest period” in Qantas’ history, “but there is light at the end of the tunnel”, thanks to Australians getting vaccinated.
In 10 days’ time, he says, a 787 will fly from Sydney to Darwin to London – the first time Qantas has run a regular long-haul flight since March 2020.
A few days after that, Sydney-to-LA flights will resume.
He says there has been a “phenomenal reaction” to the NSW news that quarantine will not be required for returning Australians from 1 November. He says Qantas has put on 20 flights to London and many of those have sold out.
There’s also massive demand for domestic travel, he says.
In response, the A380 will arrive in Australia on the 25 December:
A great Christmas present for our people.
A second one will arrive so the airline can restart the Sydney-to-LA route from April.
Flights to Singapore will come online at the end of November, Fiji from early December, South Africa in early January, and Bangkok in the middle of January.
My colleague Caitlin Cassidy has had a look at how Melburnians are feeling about the end of lockdown.
We are expecting a press conference with Scott Morrison any moment. He’s visiting a Qantas hangar with airline CEO Alan Joyce so we expect the press conference to be about the return of international travel.
The regional Victorian town of Mildura is also exiting its lockdown today, a day earlier than planned.
People in Melbourne still cannot travel into regional Victoria, or vice versa, until the state reaches 80% double dose, estimated to be 30 October.
About 500,000 Victorians need to get their second dose before we reach that target.
At that point, masks will no longer be required outdoors, retail and gyms reopen and up to 150 fully vaccinated patrons can be inside venues.
AAP reports that it’s expected Victoria will scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated Australians arriving from overseas, bringing the state into line with NSW.
According to several media reports, cabinet ministers met on Thursday night to sign off the plan, which could come into effect as early as 1 November.
Good morning, and welcome to today’s live blog. I’m Josh Taylor and I will be taking you through the news coverage this morning.
I’m coming to you from Melbourne, where we have exited our sixth lockdown after 77 days – 262 lockdown days in total this pandemic. Melbourne has endured the longest lockdown in the world.
The six reasons to leave home are no longer in place and the curfew is finally gone. And as we witnessed in scenes across the city at the clock struck 12 last night, people can now return to bars and restaurants and get haircuts in limited capacities.
You can now have up to 10 visitors a day in your home.
But it is worth remembering it will still be a little while before many more restrictions are eased, with indoor retail, indoor entertainment venues and gyms among those remaining closed until we reach 80% of the 16+ population double dose vaccinated, expected towards the end of next week.
We will bring you all the latest coming out of Melbourne in the next few hours, plus we are also keeping an eye on that Covid-19 case on the Gold Coast announced yesterday, among other things.
Let’s get into it.