Australians who are vaccinated against COVID-19 could be able to travel overseas without going into hotel quarantine or even being asked to quarantine at home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed on Friday that the health advisory committee had been tasked by the national cabinet to come up with a blueprint on options.
“What we are asking the medical expert panel to tell us is what are the thresholds that we need to be able to meet to do things such as the following – Australians who are vaccinated being able to travel overseas and return to Australia and not go into hotel quarantine, potentially not even into home quarantine at all,’’ the Prime Minister said.
“That will be a major change and to extent to which Australians returning from overseas who have had recognised vaccines also approved here in Australia with appropriate accreditation can return to Australia on that same basis and to enable potentially down the track travel from low-risk countries with similar vaccine arrangements.
“No one is saying that any of those things are coming in today but what we are working and planning for and have tasked the medical professionals who advise us on is what are the marks we have to meet to enable us to start opening up Australia more than we are now?”
Australia has already established a ‘travel bubble’ with New Zealand that was finalised in the last week and the PM hinted Singapore could be next.
“That will give us a greater deal of confidence about when we can move to other countries,’’ the PM said.
“I have mentioned Singapore before as an obvious next choice but at this stage it is still some time away. The message from the National Cabinet is we want to open up more, we want to do it safely, we want to ease restrictions, we want to do that in a consistent way across the country.”
There has been some speculation that in the early days of the international border reopening that priority will be given to business travellers and international students ahead of holidaymakers.
“You’re right, the risk may be such you may limit it to exempt categories,’’ the PM said.
“And that would be the sort of thing we would currently allow people to travel for, which is occurring right now, but that could be done with greater confidence because of the vaccination and when they return they may not then have to take up valuable places in hotel quarantine.
“Or it could be more broad as you say. But I can tell you one thing..the more Australians who are vaccinated, the more likelihood there is of being able to have the types of arrangements that I mentioned. If the vaccination population is lower, then that of course limits to options of borders, and of the other things that we’ve spoken about. So all of those options are on the table.”