Australia is set to open its international border by Christmas at the latest, announced the Tourism Minister today.
Australians will be allowed to travel overseas without restrictions as long as vaccination rate reaches 80% in their respective home states, said Australian Tourism Minister Dan Tehan at a National Press Club of Australia event on Wednesday.
“It’s another reason why everyone should get vaccinated and we have to stick to the national plan that will see our international border open up – at this rate by Christmas at the latest,” Tehan said.
For those who think this announcement comes out of the blue sky, don’t. Australia has a plan and it has been following it carefully.
Although Australia’s different states and territories have displayed an unprecedented independence as they respond to the pandemic and the needs of their populations, they are pretty much on the same page when it comes to following their reopening plan.
So far, citizens from most of the country have already overcome phases A and B and now they are preparing to move on to phase C.
This phase is triggered when the rate of fully vaccinated residents hits 80%. Here is when travel restrictions will no longer apply to immunized Australians, and lockdowns would only need to be “highly targeted”.
This, hopefully, will happen before Christmas as the minister pointed out. But that is not the last phase. Another one remains.
The final phase a.k.a. Phase D, would be reached once Australia has plenty of effective vaccines and variant-proof booster shots available so visitors and locals can enjoy pre-pandemic lifestyles.
Let’s review the numbers.
Initially, the government expected to have 4 million people vaccinated by March and the entire country vaccinated by October. However, as of Sept. 22, only 32.3% of the population has been fully vaccinated.
A few days ago, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian promised to ease some Covid-19 restrictions once the vaccination rates hit 70%, expected to be completed by mid-October. So far, Only 46% of the eligible population has received the full course of the vaccine.
“For those of you who choose not to be vaccinated, that is your choice, but don’t expect to do everything that vaccinated people do when we hit 80%,” warned Berejiklian at a media briefing in Sydney.
Either way, Qantas, Australia’s national carrier flag has already laid out plans to resume international flights to some destinations before Christmas.