This fact sheet provides information on COVID-Safe essential travel for certain groups of people.

Last updated: 02 July 2021
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Who is permitted to undertake essential travel?

Under the NSW Public Health Orders, anyone who has been directed to quarantine or to self-isolate must not leave their place of self-isolation unless for the purposes of seeking medical care, or in the event of an emergency.

However, certain groups of people are allowed to travel for essential reasons. Travel should be undertaken with appropriate precautions described in this factsheet. Any individual who has signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately get tested and follow the advice in the NSW Health fact sheet for people with COVID-19 symptoms.

This factsheet applies to the following groups of people:

  • International crew members arriving in NSW on a maritime vessel, who have been granted an exemption to disembark to travel to a government quarantine facility, directly to a medical facility for treatment, or to the airport/another vessel in order to leave Australia.
  • International travellers exempted from hotel quarantine who are required to arrange appropriate transportation to their place of self-isolation.
  • 995 Visa Holders arriving from overseas who are required to arrange appropriate transportation to their place of self-isolation.

This factsheet does not apply to:

  • A person who provides a transportation service to an international passenger or crew
  • A declared flight crew member who drives a private vehicle to their residence, with no other passengers

They must comply with directions in the NSW Health Air Transportation Guidelines.

Further advice for individual groups of people is available at NSW Health – fact sheets.

Appropriate transportation

Appropriate transportation means:

  • Travelling directly to your destination by the most direct route
  • Using a private vehicle (including a rental vehicle) if you live up to 3-4 hours' drive from the airport, or
  • Using a hire car with a professional driver (not family member or friend) for a maximum duration of 3-4 hours
  • For flight crew – on an aircraft with no passengers apart from other flight crew
  • Individuals who are permitted to leave self-isolation to travel for medical purposes may walk (wearing a mask) or ride a bike to travel to the medical facility.
  • Travel in a taxi or ride-share is not permitted
  • Travel by public transport is not permitted

Travel time of less than 4 hours is considered the most safe and practical driving limitation. If travelling long distances (greater than 3-4 hours), you must have a COVID Safe travel plan. Please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 for advice and assistance.

If you are in a hire car with driver:

  • You must comply with the following physical distancing guidance:
    • there should be no more than two passengers
    • if there is one passenger, they must sit diagonally behind the driver
    • If there are two passengers, they must sit in the back seat
  • All drivers and passengers must wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth
  • All passengers in the vehicle must have arrived on the same flight into Australia. There should not be a mixture of passengers from different flights in one vehicle.
  • Promote natural ventilation including opening car windows where possible, or, if using air conditioning, maximise the intake of outside air and reduce recirculation of air
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including washing hands before and after touching surfaces and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser during the trip
  • Where possible ensure you have any necessary refreshments required for the journey
  • Handle your own belongings and luggage.

You should not leave the vehicle unless it is urgent or unavoidable.  If you need to leave the vehicle, you must:

  • avoid stopping in busy areas, or rural and remote towns
  • continue to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth at all time
  • practice good hygiene including using alcohol-based hand sanitiser to wash your hands before and after touching surfaces
  • wipe down any surfaces such as petrol bowser, toilet doors and locks with disinfectant wipes before and after use
  • if required to stop to purchase fuel, use contactless payment methods where available (e.g. using contactless-enabled credit or debit card instead of cash)
  • maintain a list of all locations attended, including:
    • date, time and duration of time spent at each location
    • description of travel, including starting point, destination, and any rest stops

You must ensure this record is made available to NSW Health for the purposes of contact tracing if required within 4 hours of being requested.

If you are driving a private car, you must:

  • only travel with people who are self-isolating with you
  • the vehicle must be filled with fuel and any necessary refreshments required for the journey
  • rest breaks or emergency stops should be taken within the car, or in an outdoor location where physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres can be maintained at all times
  • Practice good hand hygiene, including washing hands before and after touching surfaces and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser during the trip
  • Travel time of less than 4 hours is considered the most safe and practical driving limitation. If travelling long distances (greater than 3-4 hours), you must have a COVID-19 Safe travel plan. Please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055 for advice and assistance.

You should not leave the vehicle unless it is urgent or unavoidable.  If you do leave the vehicle, you must:

  • avoid stopping in busy areas, or rural and remote towns
  • wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth 
  • practice good hygiene including using alcohol-based hand sanitiser to wash your hands before and after touching surfaces
  • wipe down any surfaces such as petrol bowser, toilet doors and locks with disinfectant wipes before and after use
  • if required to stop to purchase fuel, use contactless payment methods where available (e.g. using contactless-enabled credit or debit card instead of cash)
  • maintain a list of all locations attended, including:
    • date, time and duration of time spent at each location
    • description of travel, including starting point, destination, and any rest stops

You must ensure it is made available to NSW Health for the purposes of contact tracing within 4 hours of being requested.

Still have questions or need support while in isolation?

For more information

Current as at: Friday 2 July 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW