Fully vaccinated travellers may be allowed to leave the country and skip hotel quarantine when they return under new plans drawn up by the federal government.
The Guardian claims Health Minister Greg Hunt has set up a task force to examine how successful vaccination rates would interact with travel rules, and the new incentives could roll out in as little as six weeks’ time.
Essentially, exemptions and fewer restrictions when travelling will extend to people vaccinated in Australia, or in countries where the rollout has also been successful, including the UK, US, Canada, and Singapore.
This means potentially less quarantining is required when a traveller returns from a low-risk country. However, the necessary measures will remain, such as taking a rapid antigen test, a full COVID test, and leaving the quarantine facility after receiving a negative result, The Guardian has explained.
Low-risk destinations are recognised by the ‘amber grading system’. This system would sit between the current green category (where New Zealand sits), and red for the rest of the world.
Therefore, if a traveller returned from an amber country – and abided to necessary measures – they would be exempt of the prior mandatory restrictions.
A spokesman for Hunt told The Guardian that “The minister had previously stated on a number of occasions that vaccination may bring forward the capacity of vaccinated people to travel.”
Australia has been less successful in reaching vaccination targets. According to the latest statistics, only 499,000 people have been fully vaccinated in Australia, which equates to 2 per cent of the population.
The government hoped to have most Australians fully vaccinated by the end 2021.
This is largely due to fears of side effects or not seeing vaccinations as necessary, according to a survey that saw a third of Australians unlikely to receive the jab.
Since these fears circulated, the government along with businesses have issued massive incentives.
The biggest one yet was Qantas pledging to offer 10 mega prizes to fully vaccinated Australians, which included free flights for an entire year.
“To really help with that vaccine we are putting this discount for people who have taken the vaccine [and] we’re looking at giving 1,000 points flight vouchers and status credits,” said CEO Alan Joyce.
Smaller and large businesses all over the world are offering major discounts and rewards to fully vaccinated people.
Incentives like this have drawn criticism, especially as it encourages individuals to question the health and safety of the vaccine.
In May, a similar proposal was brought forward by the Morrison government to exempt vaccinated individuals from border bans and lockdowns imposed by states, however it was rejected by Queensland, Victoria, and MPs such as George Christensen, who believed it segregates Australians even more.