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Let vaccinated ignore lockdowns, says Canberra CEO

written by Adam Thorn | April 29, 2021

A Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER taxiing at Canberra Airport. (Seth Jaworski)

Canberra Airport CEO Stephen Byron has said vaccinated Australians should be able to ignore lockdowns and closed borders as an incentive to take up the jab.

“Vaccination rates are not going to increase unless they explain what the benefits are,” he said.

Byron’s intervention came amid reports Australians are choosing not to become inoculated due to fears over the safety of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and low levels of the virus in the community.

As well as preventing deaths and hospitalisations, evidence suggests vaccines can also stop those infected with COVID from passing it onto others – leading some to argue aviation can’t return to normal until most of the population has been inoculated.

“If you’ve had a vaccine, why would state border quarantine rules apply to you?” Byron told The Canberra Times.


“We accept that (following an outbreak) if you’ve been in a close contact site like a restaurant where there’s been a positive case, there will be restrictions.

“But the indiscriminate way that returning travellers from city lockdown places are put into home isolation — you ought to be exempt from that if you’ve had a vaccination.”

Byron was referring to the practice of passengers returning from ‘hotspot’ locations but then being asked to isolate at home even if they’re in another state.

Last week, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said there was a “70 to 80 per cent” drop in health workers turning up for appointments since links were made between the jab and blood clots.

The fears led the Australian government to change its policy so that it would prioritise administering the Pfizer vaccine to under 50s rather than the Oxford vaccine that the country has in far greater supply.

Qantas’ chief executive has repeatedly insisted Qantas’ policy is that international travellers must be vaccinated.

In December he said, “Our position on this is clear. We have a duty of care to our people and our passengers, and once a safe and effective vaccine becomes readily available, it will be a requirement for travel on our international services.

“There will be some exceptions for people who can’t – for medical reasons – take vaccines. And our flights to New Zealand will probably be exempt given their success at controlling COVID as well, just as domestic flights will be exempt.

“I acknowledge some people are opposed to vaccines in-principle. We respect that. But in return, we ask everyone who travels on Qantas and Jetstar to respect our safety protocols – which will include a COVID vaccine for international flights, at least until the pandemic is under control overseas.”

Qantas also revealed this month that border closures resulting from the Northern Beaches COVID cluster at Christmas cost the airline $400 million in lost earnings.

The outbreak in Sydney caused large areas of the city to go into a snap lockdown in December and January, which caused all other states and territories to impose travel restrictions.

The timing was particularly problematic given airlines only weeks before chalked up record sales due to most borders opening up for the first time in months.

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Comments (4)

  • Syd


    Why is a non-health care professional being given a platform to share their opinion on the cv19 vaccine? He’s a glorified facilities manager, seems irresponsible to publish this garbage.

  • Peter


    This is all very well, having vaccinated people ignore lockdowns, but give me some clear evidence that the vaccines work!
    There are reports coming out now of vaccinated people infecting unvaccinated people, so unless we have clear irrefutable evidence that vaccines are working, (I was going to say ‘as claimed’ but it appears the manufactures are being careful about any claims..) then lockdowns should apply to all and coercion to partake of experimental vaccines in order to travel is ludicrous and in breach of human rights. We shouldn’t even be hearing this conversation despite any economic duress the airline industry is under.

  • Ben


    Mr Byron should stick to running an airport not giving out health advice. Vaccination is part of the solution suite to defeat COVID, it’s not a replacement for another part of the suite. Vaccination alone doesn’t actually stop you getting the virus or spreading it, nor was that the design requirement. The vaccines are designed to stop you from dying or being severely impacted by the virus… ie you get sick and spend a few days on the couch, instead of getting severely ill and spending a few days on a ventilator. It’s also not meant to prevent transmission, but it does help reduce it by evidence thus far.

    People who mistake the vaccine for the cure are going to be the people who enable the virus to extend its life and mutate even more than it already has. The longer it survives the more it evolves and the more science needs to throw at it to defeat the new mutations.

  • Doug Bright


    Talk about a blatant (and hopefully unwitting and ill-considered) move to create a two-tiered society based on spurious rationale and dubious effectiveness of the over-touted but grossly-undertested remedy, especially considering that it is well-known that even vaccinated people can still be carriers and spreaders of CV.

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