Australia’s Prime Minister announced a new 4-step plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlights of the plan include reducing international arrivals by 50%. From July 14, Australia will accept just over 3,000 people a week, and this is likely to last until next year. Mr. Morrison has said that repatriation flights would increase for Australians wanting to return home.
The pathway out of COVID is stepped based on population vaccination. So far, just 8% of Australians have been vaccinated.
Australia’s Phased Plan
Current Phase – Vaccinate, prepare and pilot: Continue to suppress the virus for the purpose of minimizing community transmission. Measures include:
- Implement the national vaccination plan to offer every Australian an opportunity to be vaccinated with the necessary doses of the relevant vaccine as soon as possible;
- Temporarily reduce commercial inbound passenger arrivals to all major ports by 50 percent from current caps by July 14, to reduce the pressure on quarantine facilities, due to the increased risks of the Delta strain of the virus;
- Lockdowns to be used only as a last resort;
- Commonwealth to facilitate increased commercial flights to increase international repatriations to Darwin for quarantine at the National Resilience Facility at Howard Springs;
- Commonwealth to extend additional support through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism to ensure maintenance of essential freight supply lines impacted by the reduction of commercial caps at international airports;
- Trial and pilot the introduction of alternative quarantine options, including home quarantine for returning vaccinated travelers;
- Expand commercial trials for limited entry of student and economic visa holders;
- Recognize and adopt the existing digital Medicare Vaccination Certificate (automatically generated for every vaccination registered on AIR);
- Establish digital vaccination authentication at international borders;
- Prepare the vaccine booster program; and
- Undertake a further review of the national hotel quarantine network.
Post-vaccination phase: Seek to minimize serious illness, hospitalization, and fatality as a result of COVID-19. Measures may include:
- Ease restrictions on vaccinated residents – such as lockdowns and border controls;
- Lockdowns only in extreme circumstances to prevent escalating hospitalization and fatality;
- Restore inbound passengers caps at previous levels for unvaccinated returning travelers and larger caps for vaccinated returning travelers;
- Allow capped entry of student and economic visa holders subject to quarantine arrangements and availability;
- Introduce new reduced quarantine arrangements for vaccinated residents; and
- Prepare/implement the vaccine booster program (depending on timing).
Consolidation phase: Manage COVID-19 consistent with public health management of other infectious diseases. Measures may include:
- No lockdowns;
- Continue vaccine booster program;
- Exempt vaccinated residents from all domestic restrictions;
- Abolish caps on returning vaccinated travellers;
- Allow increased capped entry of student, economic, and humanitarian visa holders;
- Lift all restrictions on outbound travel for vaccinated persons; and
- Extend travel bubble for unrestricted travel to new candidate countries (Singapore, Pacific).
Final Phase: Manage COVID-19 consistent with public health management of other infectious diseases. Measures may include:
- Allow uncapped inbound arrivals for all vaccinated persons, without quarantine; and
- Allow uncapped arrivals of non-vaccinated travelers subject to pre-flight and on arrival testing.
Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.