Vaccinated travellers from low risk countries will quarantine at home for seven days in a trial in South Australia, National Cabinet has agreed.
The trial will find out if it’s safe to scrap the 14-day hotel quarantine requirement as the country looks to gradually open its borders once more people are vaccinated.
A date for the trial, which will last for two weeks, has not yet been decided.
Shoppers queue to buy fruit and vegetables at a store in the suburb of Fairfield in western Sydney on Friday
Mounted officers made a brief appearance around lunchtime in Bankstown during lockdown on Friday
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: ‘We will work with [South Australia] now to set up a time frame of how that will be put together and transparency arrangements for the other states and territories.
I think this is an important development. I think it’s trialling out these new quarantine arrangements which will take significant pressure off, if it’s successful.’
There have been at least 26 hotel quarantine leaks since the start of the pandemic, including six in June.
Last week Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said home quarantine can be safer than hotel quarantine because it avoids contact with hotel staff.
‘Seven days of home quarantine can be very similar to the outcome of 14 days’ hotel quarantine,’ he said.
A woman wears a mask and visor in Chapel Street in Bankstown on Friday
Residents shopped for essentials wearing masks in Sydney. Pictured: Chapel Street in Bankstown
‘If people are staying at home, it actually can be safer for them and the community because of the decreased interaction with staff.’
When he outlined his four-stage roadmap to freedom last week, Mr Morrison said home quarantine for vaccinated travellers would happen in the second stage expected early next year.
‘You have a great opportunity for Australians who are vaccinated to be able to leave Australia and come back and put no pressure on the hotel quarantine system,’ he said on Friday.
Meanwhile, Pfizer has confirmed it will ‘ramp up’ its delivery of vaccines to Australia as Sydney’s outbreak grows to 439 cases.
The company has agreed to deliver at least a million vaccines a week from July 19, meaning more than 4.5million jabs will arrive in August.
Previously only three million doses were expected in August and 4.5million were due in September.
The total number delivered to Australia in 2021 will remain at 40 million, as agreed in April. Pfizer is simply sending the shipments earlier.
Shoppers make a purchase at a local fish market along Chapel Road in Bankstown in western Sydney as lockdown entered its fourteenth day
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said more vaccines were needed to get Sydney out of lockdown.
‘We need to have zero people who have been infectious in the community,’ she said in her press conference on Friday.
‘New South Wales, in fact no state or nation or any country on the planet, can live with the Delta variant when our vaccination rates are so low.
‘So please, do not think that the New South Wales government thinks we can live with this when our rate of vaccination is only at 9 per cent.
‘Because if we chose to live with this while the rates of vaccinations are at 9 per cent, we will see thousands and thousands of hospitalisations and death.’
She added: ‘At the beginning of the pandemic New South Wales quadrupled its capacity to hospitalise people who might need ICU or need to be in hospital because of Covid so the capacity is there but I don’t want us to have to go to it. I don’t want to subject thousands of people to that scenario. It is not a pretty picture.’
Mr Morrison has supported locking down Sydney until new local Covid cases are eliminated.
The four-phase plan to return Australia to ‘Covid normal’ which will eventually see holidays resume
On Friday Scott Morrison outlined a four-phase transition towards living with Covid and finally ending the cycle of lockdowns and border closures.
The Prime Minister hailed a ‘new deal for Australians’ as he explained the stages titled vaccinate, prepare and pilot; post vaccination phase; consolidation phase; and final phase.
The pace of the plan – which will eventually let the country manage Covid like flu – depends on the vaccine rollout, with lockdowns eliminated once a certain percentage of Aussies have been fully jabbed with two doses.
‘I have made it very clear today what is on the other side. If we all get vaccinated then this all changes,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘The pathway we have agreed today gives all Australians encouragement and much needed hope in what has been a very difficult time.’
The plan was announced after 12 million Australians were locked down last week due to several outbreaks across the nation.
What are the four phases of opening up?
1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet
2. Post vaccination phase (when an as-yet unannounced percentage of Aussies are jabbed, expected early next year)
No lockdowns or state borders except for ‘extreme circumstances’; caps for unvaccinated arrivals doubled to 6,070; home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; capped entry for students and economic visa holders
3. Consolidation phase (date not announced)
Lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; vaccinated people exempted from domestic restrictions; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out
4. Final phase (date not announced)
Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival