Australia Imposes 70, 80 Percent Vaccination Targets to Reopen, Lift Restrictions

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
July 30, 2021Australia
Australia Imposes 70, 80 Percent Vaccination Targets to Reopen, Lift Restrictions
Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference at Kirribilli House in Sydney, Australia, on July 16, 2021. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

The Australian government has revealed COVID-19 vaccination targets for the country to ease its restrictions, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing that 80 percent of the population must be vaccinated before the country starts further reopening its international borders.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of Australians aged over 16 must be fully vaccinated before stay-at-home orders and related restrictions can have a chance to be lifted.

The announcement late Friday comes after Morrison met with state and territory leaders at national cabinet. The prime minister said they have agreed on a “national plan to chart the way back,” with “special rules” to apply to those who get vaccinated compared to those who are not.

In early July, the Australian government announced a four-phase plan, with each phase of the plan (pdf) to be activated once a certain percentage of the population aged over 16 is vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19. At the time, no vaccination targets were specified.

Currently, about 18 percent of the national population are fully vaccinated, and about 40 percent have had one dose of a CCP virus vaccine.

Late Friday, Morrison revealed that any given state or territory will move from the current phase (Phase A) to Phase B if the 70 percent vaccination target is met at both a national and state level—what he called a “two-key process.”

In Phase B, lockdowns may still be possible, but will be more unlikely, and authorities will more likely lean toward lesser restrictions that would not involve stay-at-home orders, he said.

Morrison said that for Phase B, “international border caps will remain and low-level international arrivals will be able to be undertaken, under controlled settings with safe and proportion quarantine to minimise the risk of COVID entering.” He added, “We will ease restrictions in Phase B on vaccinated residents. The details of that are still to be worked through.”

Morrison said the nation can move to Phase C when, across the board, “an average of 80 percent and the state or territory has reached 80 percent” of the total Australian population being fully vaccinated.

In Phase C, city-wide lockdowns are expected to end, although some restrictions may remain to minimise the spread of the virus among vulnerable groups.

That phase involves fewer restrictions on travel in and out of the country, Morrison said.

“We will abolish caps on returning vaccinated Australians,” he announced. “We will also increase the capped entry of student, economic, and humanitarian visa holders. We will lift all restrictions on out-bound travel for vaccinated Australians and we’ll extend the travel bubble for unrestricted travel to new candidate countries.”

He added, “There will be a gradual reopening of inward and outbound international travel with safe countries, those that have the same sort of vaccination levels that Australia has and proportionate quarantine and reduced requirements for fully vaccinated inbound travellers.”

Meanwhile, in the final phase (Phase D), Australia will have a full reopening of its international borders such that there would be no caps on inbound arrivals.

“The final phase, of course, involves opening international borders, quarantine for high-risk inbound travel only, minimising cases in the community without ongoing restrictions or any lockdowns, living with COVID,” Morrison said, although he didn’t specify a vaccination target for the final phase.

No Clear Timeline

The prime minister did not offer a timeline on reaching the thresholds, but said he believed the 70 percent target could be hit before the end of the year.

He acknowledged that the targets are relatively high compared to the rest of the world, telling reporters, “I note there are only two countries, significant countries, that have reached a 70 percent level of vaccination, double-dose of their eligible vaccination—the United Kingdom and Israel.”

The plan has just been agreed to “in principle,” with further details in the coming weeks when it is finalised, Morrison said.

“The UK has got there. Israel has got there,” Morrison said of the 70 percent target. “We’ve actually delivered and administered more vaccines than the state of Israel now in volume terms.”

He also says that the current plan is “subject to the rules that indeed COVID-19 writes itself,” alluding to potential changes in the future should a new variant or trend emerges.

Sydney residents and those in surrounding areas are facing a strict stay-at-home order for the next four weeks after having endured a month of similar restrictions already. The state government of New South Wales cited “low vaccination rates” as a key factor in extending the lockdown. Police in the state have called in the military to help enforce the tough lockdown restrictions.

From The Epoch Times

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