Prime minister Scott Morrison says Australians will be able to travel between all states and territories except Western Australia by Christmas thanks to a new agreement by the National Cabinet.
WA easing restrictions
WA has decided to continue to go it alone – although the state’s hard border will be scrapped from tonight with residents from states and territories deemed ‘very low risk’ to able to enter Western Australia without quarantining from November 14.
The WA CMO has defined ‘very low risk’ as no cases of local transmission of COVID-19 for the past 28 days. Under the new provisions, NSW and Victorian residents will still be required to self-quarantine for two weeks if entering the state and undertake a coronavirus test on day 11.
Travellers from low-risk jurisdictions (all other Australian states) will be able to enter the state unencumbered. However, travellers will still be subject to health screenings and temperature checks upon arrival at Perth airport, with COVID-19 tests also used as precautionary measures if necessary.
In addressing the easing of restrictions WA Premier Mark McGowan said: “We are now at the next step pf our journey to transition from our hard border to a controlled border”.
The premier said the border will be subject to trigger points and border closures could resume should case numbers spike.
McGowan said he would not be proceeding down the path of easing border restrictions unless health authorities had assured him it was safe to do so.
National cabinet outlines new public health plan
Prime Minister Morrison said the National Cabinet had agreed to public health measures to ensure states and territories remain open in 2021.
“It also is a plan that importantly embeds public health metrics in ensuring that when Australia opens safely it remains open safely. That’s incredibly important,” he said.
The PM said if the nation is to reopen all borders, COVID-safe measures such as social distancing and checking in are here to stay.
“The task is to reopen safely and then to stay safely open,” he said.
“By staying safely open you’re giving confidence to businesses, to people in jobs, to people who are making decisions about their future and what they’re going to do. Stop-start, stop-start, does not provide that.”
The announcement comes as Australia records seven new cases of COVID-19, all overseas acquired and in hotel quarantine.
National vaccine policy
The PM also said the National Cabinet had made headway on the regulations surrounding the storing and distribution of any potential vaccine, with a national vaccination policy being endorsed on Friday.
The news comes following the announcement the University of Queensland’s vaccine would likely be ready for distribution in late 2021.
“It’s another sign that together as a country we are working to prepare ourselves to be able to disseminate and administer those vaccines all around the country when they’re ready and when they’ve passed the necessary TGA approvals and to ensure they are safe,” the PM said.