A number of Australian States and Territories have implemented border controls to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The states have different rules around inter-state travel, although many grant an exemption for healthcare workers. These rules are changing as states react to the different stages of the pandemic. Below we have outlined the advice from each of the States and Territories to help guide you if you’re considering crossing state borders to take on a locum role or to help out an area in need. We have linked to the state websites in each section and would encourage you to check those sites for the most up-to-date information. If you do travel inter-state in your professional capacity we would encourage you to take all relevant documentation relating to the job you’ll be taking up e.g. a printed copy of the job confirmation with the practice/hospital contact information, a copy of your contract, etc.
Queensland has implemented border closures, with exemptions for certain individuals including: “A health practitioner who is requested by the Queensland Chief Health Officer or their delegate to present for duty in Queensland to perform health services”. Individuals who are eligible for exemption must apply for a Queensland Entry Pass.
Queensland Health have stated "There will be no expectation that clinical staff, as long as they have NOT travelled Internationally will need to self-isolate".
Strict state borders are in place and no one may enter Western Australia unless an exemption has been granted. Exemptions apply for a number of different individuals, including “persons carrying out a function under a law of the Commonwealth Health services when requested by the Chief Health Officer of the Department of Health”.
If you believe you qualify for an exemption you must apply for approval to travel, either by completing a paper-based exemption application form, or by using the G2G PASS app. If you apply for approval to travel via the G2G PASS app, a QR code will be generated which can be displayed on a mobile phone and/or through a vehicle window without human contact.
If you apply for an exemption, you must carry your exemption form and proof of its submission when travelling. You may be asked to produce this documentation at a checkpoint or by WA Police patrolling the area.
If your exemption category requires further documentation or proof, you must produce this on request. Failure to produce this documentation may result in penalties including imprisonment or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $250,000 for organisations.
Each facility will determine if a locum will need to quarantine for the 14 days or if they can commence immediately with a risk assessment.
Western Australian also has restrictions on intrastate travel and is defined as movement through the boundaries of their regions. Each region has their own set of parameters when deciding on quarantine issues.
Border control check-points are operating for traffic entering South Australia, and non-essential travellers will have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The definition of an essential traveller states:
“Persons who are requested by the Chief Executive of the Department for Health and Wellbeing, or by the Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, or by the delegate of either, to assist in the provision of health services in South Australia and who are required to be physically present in South Australia in the conduct of those duties.
Note— This means that South Australian health care workers who wish to provide services in another State or jurisdiction will be required to undertake a 14-day quarantine period on their return to South Australia. The only exception is a person who falls within the terms of this clause.”
Border controls have been implemented in the Northern Territory, meaning non-essential travellers arriving at the NT border must complete 14 days of forced quarantine. Travellers will be monitored an accommodated for the duration – but accommodation expenses will be at your own cost. You may be exempt from this forced quarantine if you are an essential traveller. The definition of an essential traveller includes:
- “A health practitioner who is ordinarily a resident in the Territory and who is requested by the chief executive officer of the Department of Health, or his or her delegate, to return to the Territory to present for duty in the Territory.”
- “A health practitioner who is requested by the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Health, or his or her delegate, to present for duty in the Territory to perform, during the period in which the person will be present in the Territory, duties required to be performed in the Territory.”
Essential travellers must submit an application for exemption which will be assessed by the Chief Health Officer or appropriate delegate. The processing of applications can take up to 10 business days.
Border controls are in place in Tasmania, with all travellers required to quarantine for 14 days unless they meet essential traveller or exemption criteria and have received official communication stating they are exempt. Current exemption categories include:
- A clinician in relation to healthcare who is ordinarily a resident in Tasmania and who is requested by the Secretary of the Department of Health, or his or her delegate, to return to Tasmania to present for duty in Tasmania.
- A clinician in relation to healthcare who is requested by the Secretary of the Department of Health, or his or her delegate, to present for duty in Tasmania to perform, during the period in which the person will be present in Tasmania, duties unable to be appropriately performed by a person ordinarily resident in Tasmania.
Health care workers seeking an exemption from quarantine must complete an application form at least 24 hours prior to travelling to Tasmania.
When not carrying out approved work duties health care workers should uphold quarantine standards for 14 days from arrival in Tasmania, including staying at home or in a hotel, and strictly applying social distancing and hygiene requirements.
New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory
At this time there are no restrictions to entering these States/Territory – no border closures have been implemented.