As long as 80 percent of vaccination objectives are fulfilled, Australians would be free to return home and travel internationally “within weeks,” Scott Morrison said during a news conference on Friday.
Australia's prime minister has stated that the nation is ready to progressively reopen its borders, 18 months after citizens were barred from travelling abroad without permission and thousands of Australians were stuck abroad due to a strict limit on arrivals.
“The time has come to give Australians their life back. We’re getting ready for that, and Australia will be ready for takeoff, very soon,” Morrison said.
The plan's initial phase will focus on allowing citizens and permanent residents to leave Australia, with subsequent modifications likely to allow international visitors to enter the country.
The implementation of home quarantine in Australia's eight states and territories would be connected to the reopening of the international border for citizens and permanent residents, Morrison said, implying that certain areas of the country will reopen sooner than others.
Officials believe that New South Wales (NSW) will be the first state to reach the 80 percent vaccination target, and that it may serve as a "test-bed" for enabling Australians to leave the country.
“There will be a cautious and staged approach in terms of what’s undertaken,” Simon Birmingham, the Finance Minister, told a local news show.
The government has imposed a border closure until December 17th. As a result of the revised ruling, the limitations may be eliminated at least a month sooner.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Department of Home Affairs approved 210,679 Australians to go overseas, while 122,131 applications were denied.
Families have been separated across continents, with nationals trapped abroad and foreign residents unable to see friends or family who live in the country.
Fully vaccinated Australians will be able to return home in November without having to pay hundreds of dollars for a hotel quarantine.
Instead, when they return to the nation, they will be able to quarantine at home for seven days.
Unvaccinated Australians will still be held in quarantine for 14 days in hotels or other facilities.
The specific date will vary by state, but as Birmingham predicted, NSW would likely be the first to welcome back foreign travellers.
When it was "safe to do so," Morrison said his government was working toward quarantine-free travel with countries like New Zealand.
As per Morrison, Australia would also extend its list of approved COVID-19 vaccinations, allowing thousands of citizens and permanent residents who have been overseas to return through the home quarantine system.
Only Pfizer (PFE.N), Moderna (MRNA.O), and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccines are presently recognised in Australia. Sinovac from China and Covishield from the Serum Institute of India, a variant of AstraZeneca's vaccine, will be added to the list, according to the source.
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