Australia will move to the next phase of its Covid-19 recovery plan once 70 percent of citizens are vaccinated, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced. Mr. Morrison on Friday evening made the announcement following a marathon meeting with state and territory leaders, where they agreed in principle to targets to return Australia to normalcy. We will get to the next phase when Australia reaches 70 percent of the eligible double-dose vaccinated population. We will get to phase C when we hit 80 percent,” he said. “Now, these are targets for all Australians to achieve. States, territories, working together, communities working together, individuals, GPs, pharmacists. Australia will get this done by working together.
The targets are there for us all to achieve and for us all to work towards.”
Australia is currently in the first phase, suppression, with the rate of people aged 16 and over who have received both doses sitting around 18 percent.
It won’t be until the nation and each state and territory reaches the 70 percent vaccination threshold that the country will move into phase B. That phase will see restrictions such as lockdowns and border controls eased on vaccinated residents.
Lockdowns will only occur in “extreme circumstances.”
“They are less likely – I wish to stress and in targeted cases … they may be necessary for those circumstances, but they are not something that you would normally expect because of the much higher level of vaccination and protection that exists within the country,” he said.
Inbound passenger caps will be restored to previous levels for unvaccinated returning travelers. A larger cap will be allocated for vaccinated returning travelers.
Mr. Morrison remained coy on if Australia could reach phase B by the end of the year, telling reporters it was up to the nation to respond to the challenge he was setting. “We’re not going to set timetables on it. I would hope so, but that is entirely up to how the nation responds to this challenge we’re setting for ourselves, for each and every one of us,” he said.
“There will certainly be the supply and the distribution and the opportunity to do that. But whether that is achieved is up to all of us.”
It won’t be until 80 percent of eligible Australians are vaccinated before the country can move into life without lockdowns. Phase C would ultimately see exemptions from domestic restrictions and lift all outbound travel restrictions for vaccinated residents. The travel bubble for unrestricted travel could also extend to the Pacific and Singapore.
Caps for returning vaccinated travelers would also be abolished.
The national cabinet agreement is based on data by the Doherty Institute, commissioned by the government to model what would occur when a certain percentage of the population was vaccinated and what impact further outbreaks would have on the health system at that rate. That data was then considered against Treasury modeling around the cost of lockdowns, providing leaders with an idea of guidelines for trigger points to move to the next phase of the plan.