The prime minister of Australia Scott Morrison called on Australians to “get vaccinated” in order to “change how we live as a country” – but he indicated it might take until next year to reach the next stage of the four-stage opening-up plan.
Australia has announced cuts to caps on international arrivals aim to reduce the pressure on hotel quarantine facilities and are in line with increasingly loud calls from a number of states – however the move was not the preferred approach of the New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, nor Morrison.
Speaking after a meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday, Ausie PM Morrison said the halving of the caps would not necessarily prevent further breaches of infection control – but “it is believed that is a prudent action” because of the increased virulency of the Delta variant.
International passenger arrivals into Australia has tightened from 6,070 to 3,035 by 14 July. Within those numbers, the cap on arrivals into Sydney – which takes about half of all arrivals into Australia – will go from 3,010 to 1,505.
According the PM of Australia the leaders in the country has urged to try and minimise the disruption for people with already planned flights. There are currently 34,000 Australians registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wishing to return from overseas.
With large parts of Australia currently locked down, and with vaccination coverage still low, he said there was “still quite a journey ahead of us” and the nation was currently in the first of the four stages, focused on suppressing the community transmission.
The 4 stage Covid-19 exit plan in Australia
So what the 4 stage exit plan
Morrison said stage one would be known as “vaccinate, prepare, and pilot”
The international arrivals cap would be restored to previous levels for unvaccinated travellers, with a separate, larger cap for vaccinated travellers.
Under phase three, there would be no lockdowns, no cap on returning vaccinated travellers, and no domestic restrictions for vaccinated residents. There could also be a travel bubble with countries like Singapore.
Stage four would be a return to a pre-pandemic normal, although still with pre- and post-flight testing for people arriving in Australia.
Morrison declined to set out a timeframe for phase four, or earlier phases.
The thresholds for moving to the next stages would be based on vaccination rates, but national cabinet has yet to reach agreement on what the triggers will be.
The triggers would be based on expert scientific advice and modelling, Morrison said, not “political deals”. He believed the government would be in a position by the end of this year to have offered everyone a vaccine who wants to have one.