South Australia Premier Steven Marshall has said South Australia will likely continue to impose caps on international arrivals and 14-day home quarantine, meaning international travel will likely remain out of reach for South Australians until at least next year.
The announcement means that South Australia will stray from the national reopening plan, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week, that will see states allowed to welcome an uncapped amount of fully vaccinated international arrivals from November, with seven-day home quarantine.
Premier Marshall stated that he would prefer to keep the quarantine requirement even for fully vaccinated citizens and residents to 14 days, given that some positive COVID cases don’t receive a positive test result until the second week of their infection.
“The seven days of home quarantine for double-vaxxed people is a NSW proposal; we haven’t signed up to that yet,” he said.
“We have a different scenario in SA. Ultimately, we will get to that point (following the national plan), but we’ll start with 14 days of home quarantine. I don’t think any other jurisdiction is starting with seven days.”
Further, Marshall stated that the state will likely continue to impose caps on arrivals into the state, even when the state reached the 80 per cent vaccination target.
Continued arrival caps will make it nearly impossible for South Australians to book an overseas flight and have certainty that they can actually return home on their booked return flight.
Instead, the SA premier said that arrivals will continue to largely be made up of returning Australian residents and citizens who have been left stranded overseas due to the pandemic.
Marshall also said South Australia would not “miraculously” open up on the day its adult population hits the 80 per cent double-jabbed figure.
However, the South Australian premier did state that plans are in place to reopen state borders with NSW and Victoria in time for Christmas – however some testing requirements might be introduced.
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“I’m hopeful all of those people coming back from interstate that are double vaccinated – that haven’t been to exposure sites – will be able to come back and enjoy a relatively normal Christmas in South Australia,” Marshall said.
It comes days after Health Minister Greg Hunt cast doubt that Australian’s could confidently travel overseas once borders open, by suggesting that international flights could be paused from countries that experience severe COVID-19 outbreaks in the future, which could see Australian travellers again stranded overseas.
Speaking with ABC Radio Brisbane on Monday, Minister Hunt was asked whether the government would pause international travel to certain countries if they were to see a spike in COVID infections.
“There is the capacity to do that,” Minister Hunt said.
“For example in India, when we were seeing 14 per cent positive rates on the flights that were going into Howard Springs, we did [pause flights] for two weeks.
“It was controversial at the time. But after that, we were able to sure up the testing procedures that were occurring in another country with additional Australian measures, put in place those procedures, and it dropped from a positive rate of 14 per cent to under one per cent.
“So that was protecting the Howard Springs and the Northern Territory, and by definition, the rest of Australia. So there are no plans to do that, but there’s the capacity to do that.”
Minister Hunt noted that should future variants of the virus be more resistant to the COVID-19 vaccines, the government would consider closing international borders once more.
“But the general proposition is that you leave, you can travel, you can return if double vaccinated and you would go into home quarantine with appropriate testing,” he added.
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