Scott Morrison says vaccinated Australians could be able to travel overseas and skip hotel quarantine by the end of the year.
The prime minister said on Sunday he hoped the greater freedoms would be available to residents who needed to travel for ‘important purposes’ like work or medical reasons.
The vaccinated travellers would then be able to quarantine at home, rather than at a hotel, when they return to Australia.
‘If we can get in a position in the second half of the year to have Australians for essential purpose travel and return to the country without going into hotel quarantine if they have been vaccinated, it is a good incentive to get vaccinated,’ he said.
Mr Morrison admitted he would not reopen the international border without heavy consideration.
‘I assure Australians that I will not be putting at risk the way we are living in this country which is so different to the rest of the world,’ he said.
Mr Morrison told media on Thursday he had tasked medical experts with coming up with a framework to give travel freedom to Australians who have received both doses of the jab.
He said the plan was still ‘some time away’ from becoming reality but was the next step in relaxing the country’s strict border closures during the pandemic.
‘What I’d like to see happen next, and this is what I’ve tasked the medical experts with, is ensuring we can know when an Australian is vaccinated here with their two doses, is able to travel overseas and return without having to go through hotel quarantine,’.
‘Now, I think we’re still some time away from that.
‘The states, at this stage, I’m sure wouldn’t be agreeing to relax those hotel quarantine arrangements for those circumstances at this point in time.’
He had earlier told a community forum in Perth home quarantine could be used if it did not lead to a significantly higher number of cases than isolating in a hotel.
Mr Morrison told media on Thursday he had tasked medical experts with coming up with a framework to give travel freedom to Australians who have received both doses of the jab
‘[If] the data was showing that home-based quarantine was not creating any additional, scaled risks, that could lead to something more significant,’ he said.
‘That is how we move to the next step.’
He said the plan would have to receive the support of the state premiers to become a reality.
Mr Morrison said the total re-opening of Australia’s borders was still some way off.
He said Australians had become used to recording days of zero community transmission but that would need to change if restrictions were lifted too quickly.
‘If we were to lift the borders and people were to come, then you would see those cases increase,’ he said.
‘Australians would have to become used to dealing with a thousand cases a week or more.’
By Joe Cusmano