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Prime Minister Scott Morrison reveals four step plan to take Australia beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reveals four step plan to take Australia beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
July 2, 2021

A meeting of Australia’s National Cabinet today has seen Prime Minister Scott Morrison announce a four-stage plan which to drive the nation’s emergence from COVID-19, which he described as getting “to the other side” of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Resulting from a high degree of cooperation between Prime Minister Morrison and the state and territory Premiers, he revealed that a new deal would be linked to specific vaccination targets that will give vaccinated Australians greater freedom and which will see international travel resume.

However, Prime Minister Morrison did not reveal any timings or specify what levels of vaccinations would be required for each of the phases, to avoid snap lockdowns and border closures but he did go on to say though that modelling would determine the vaccination thresholds that need to be achieved.

The four-step roadmap goes from the current phase (‘Vaccinate, prepare and pilot’) through to a ‘Final phase’, when all restrictions on international travel will cease for all vaccinated persons and those who produce a negative COVID-19 test.

During the current first phase, restrictions will continue to be used as necessary while the vaccine is rolled out.

During this phase, the number of commercial flights to all Australian cities will be reduced by 50%, with the objective of reducing pressure on hotel quarantine due to the increased risks of the Delta variant, with this significantly reduced quarantine cap in place until at least the start of 2022. He added though more repatriation flights will go to the Howard Springs quarantine camp near Darwin.

Prime Minister Morrison (pictured below) also said that during this period the States will trial alternative quarantine options, including home quarantine for returning vaccinated travellers, adding that research showed that a vaccinated person quarantining for seven days was better than an unvaccinated person quarantining for 14 days.

He then revealed that the second phase, which he described as the post-vaccination phase, will begin once Australia reaches a threshold of vaccination to be determined by modelling and he added that the modelling would give a scientific number, not a political number.

Prime Minister Morrisonadded that it was likely the second phase would come into effect once every Australian had been offered a vaccine, which was by the end of the year, with measures then maybe including easing State-imposed restrictions on vaccinated residents, such as lockdowns and border closures, and that lockdowns would only occur in extreme circumstances.

In addition, the cap on international arrivals would be restored to previous levels for unvaccinated travellers and increase for those who were vaccinated.

The third stage which Morrison described as the consolidation phase, would see COVID-19 managed like other infectious diseases, adding that once the hospitalisation and fatality rates were in line with the flu that it should be treated like the flu, meaning no lockdowns”, with evidence from other countries already seeing this happen.

The National Cabinet agreed to formulate a plan to transition Australia’s National COVID Response from its current pre vaccination settings to one where the country begins to live with the threat of the Coronavirus. This will focus on continued suppression of community transmission, to post vaccination settings focussed on prevention of serious illness, hospitalisation and fatality, and the public health management of other infectious diseases.

National Cabinet agreed in-principle that the plan consists of the four phases, each triggered by the achievement of vaccination thresholds expressed as a percentage of the eligible population, based on the scientific modelling currently being conducted for the COVID-19 Risk Analysis and Response Task Force.

In the current phase, lockdowns will be used only as a last resort, while in Phase B there will be an easing of restrictions on vaccinated residents - such as lockdowns and border controls. In Phase C there will be no lockdowns and vaccinated residents will be exempted from all domestic restrictions.

Prime Minister Morrison told reporters “if you get vaccinated, you get to change how we live as a country … you get to change how you live.”

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