National cabinet has agreed on a new approach to managing COVID-19 with lockdowns to only be used as a “last resort” while Australia will temporarily halve its cap on returned international travellers.
Leaders have also agreed to trial alternative quarantine options including home quarantine for vaccinated travellers.
The plan would also likely see vaccinated travellers exempt from any state border restrictions.
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The Prime Minister has announced a new four-phase plan which sees governments focus more on managing the virus instead of trying to completely eliminate it.
“We have agreed a new deal for Australians on the pathway out of COVID-19. A pathway from a pre-vaccination period which is focussed on the suppression of the virus on community transmission cases to one that sees us manage COVID-19 as an infectious disease like any other in our community,” The Prime Minister said.
Each phase of the plan will be triggered when Australia reaches a certain level of vaccination, but that level is yet to be determined.
The first stage will see the continued ramp-up of Australia’s vaccination program with the PM promising to “offer every Australian an opportunity to be vaccinated with the necessary doses of the relevant vaccine as soon as possible.”
The cap on international returned travellers on commercial flights will be reduced by 50 per cent to relieve pressure on Australia’s quarantine system.
However, the Prime Minister says the Commonwealth will facilitate more repatriation flights to get stranded Australians home.
Vaccinated returned travellers could be allowed to quarantine at home for just seven days under a trial that was discussed by National Cabinet.
“There is clear medical evidence to suggest that vaccination means that shorter periods of quarantine is possible without any compromise of the health and safety standards that is currently delivered by a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated persons.”
Leaders also discussed sparing vaccinated Australians from tough restrictions including lockdowns and border controls.
A final decision has yet to be made and any move would depend on the country reaching a certain level of vaccination.
“Lockdowns would only occur in extreme circumstances to prevent escalating hospitalisation and fatality.”
More to come.