Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged potential major changes to international travel as Australia’s vaccine rollout continues to ramp up.
The Federal Government has requested the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advise what thresholds need to be met in order for vaccinated Australians to travel overseas and the quarantine arrangements that would be required.
Mr Morrison said the government was seeking advice as to whether quarantine should remain in hotels, and if a home model or even no quarantine requirements were at all feasible to be implemented in the future for vaccinated travellers.
“No one is saying that any of those things are coming in today,” he said.
“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?
“All we have done today is ask the medical advisers what are the health implications of these types of options, and what are the preconditions that we would need to be comfortable about before going down that path?”
Medical experts will also examine who could be permitted to travel and whether this would be limited to certain “exempt categories”, including family emergencies and work-related purposes.
“The risk may be such (that) you may limit it to exempt categories,” Mr Morrison 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. 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.”
Mr Morrison said the travel bubble arrangement would instill greater confidence in the government to later establish bubbles with other countries, including Singapore.
“We already have the New Zealand open arrangement,” he said.
“We welcome that and we look forward to the success of that in the coming months.
“That will give us a greater deal of confidence about when we can move to other countries.
“I have mentioned Singapore before as an obvious next choice but at this stage, it is still some time away.”
The vaccine rollout has frequently been spruiked as Australia’s key to opening up and exiting the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The message from 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,” Mr Morrison said.