Trial allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas could start in six weeks | Health

Join Hafta-Ichi to Research the article “Trial allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas could start in six weeks | Health”

Australians who have been vaccinated against Covid would be able to leave the country and return with less strict quarantine requirements under a plan that could be trialled within six weeks.

The federal health minister, Greg Hunt, revealed the proposal in the Coalition party room on Tuesday following a question from Liberal MP Jason Falinski, who had asked whether vaccination could see people exempted from outbound and inbound travel restrictions.

Australia shut its borders in March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic imposing two weeks hotel quarantine on those arriving into the country.

Outbound travel is also banned – which was upheld by the full federal court on Tuesday – although more than 140,000 Australian citizens and residents have travelled overseas for critical business, on compassionate grounds or for other exempted reasons.

With Australia struggling to vaccinate its population by the end of 2021, there is pressure on the federal government to provide incentives to get the jab and to ease the travel ban that has separated families.

About 40,000 Australians remain stranded overseas due to flight caps imposed as a result of limited hotel quarantine beds.

Hunt told the Coalition party room that two weeks ago the government had set up a taskforce to examine how vaccination could interact with Australia’s travel rules.

Modelling began on Monday and a pilot program could begin in six to eight weeks’ time, the health minister said.

Exemptions would be extended to people vaccinated in Australia or in countries where vaccination status can be reliably verified – such as the UK, US, Canada and Singapore.

Australians are already able to travel to New Zealand and back without going into hotel quarantine. It’s the only country currently categorised as a “green zone” via the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Guardian Australia understands the government will consider introducing other gradings, such as amber, based on the risk of bringing coronavirus back to Australia, with different quarantine rules to be applied.

For example, fully vaccinated passengers returning from less risky countries could be allowed to take a rapid antigen test, and then a full Covid test, and leave quarantine after negative results.

A spokesman for Hunt told Guardian Australia “the minister had previously stated on a number of occasions that vaccination may bring forward the capacity of vaccinated people to travel”.

“Today’s advice [to the party room] was consistent with that,” he said. “No advice has been received.”

In October, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, asked experts to develop “innovative” alternatives to hotel quarantine, including quarantine in-home, on-farm or on-campus, but the options were rejected in November on the basis they were not considered safe.

In January, Jane Halton, who conducted a national review into the system in October, told Guardian Australia hotel quarantine would be needed “until we have a significant proportion of our population vaccinated”.

But once vulnerable populations had been vaccinated in Australia “the conversation will change [and] there will come a point we ask ourselves: do we continue to close ourselves off to rest of world?” she said at the time.

Halton made the comments in response to a call from Liberal MP Andrew Laming to allow home isolation, halved timeframes for quarantine, or quarantine in resort facilities.

In May, Morrison proposed that Australians who had been vaccinated could be exempted from domestic restrictions, such as border bans and lockdowns imposed by the states in response to outbreaks.

The plan met resistance from states such as Queensland and Victoria that wanted to preserve their ability to set restrictions, and from members of the government such as George Christensen who objected on the basis it rendered unvaccinated people second-class citizens.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Trial allowing vaccinated Australians to travel overseas could start in six weeks | Health

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *