Australia is set to end mandatory COVID-19 isolation across all states and territories in the most significant relaxation of rules since the start of the pandemic.
It comes as Omicron sickness leave, combined with skill shortages, led to record nationwide delays across domestic aviation in April, June, and July.
The decision came at the latest meeting of the National Cabinet and will come into effect on 14 October, with pandemic leave disaster payments also set to end for all employees except those in high-risk settings.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said, “We wanted to make sure that we have measures which are proportionate and that are targeted at the most vulnerable.
“We want to continue to promote vaccinations as being absolutely critical, including people getting booster shots. And we want a policy that promotes resilience and capacity-building and reduces reliance on government intervention.”
It’s reported NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet led the charge and argued personal responsibility should replace government mandates.
“If you’re sick, you stay at home, and if you’re not, you get out and about and enjoy life,” he said.
It also brings to a near-end the direct impact of COVID-19 on the Australian aviation industry — its most significant disruption since World War II.
Tens of thousands of aviation employees were made redundant, borders shut while Qantas even stopped flying commercial international flights from April 2020 until November 2021. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce even estimated the cost of the pandemic on his business was $7 billion, which he called “staggering”.
It follows Australia opening its international border in stages, first allowing residents and citizens to fly in November 2021, before opening to students, backpackers, and skilled migrants shortly after.
It’s also the latest piece of good news this week since airports largely coped well during the recent school holiday period.
Australian Aviation reported yesterday how Brisbane Airport saw the maximum wait time to pass through security peaking at only 20 minutes.
It backed up an independent analysis by Australian Aviation earlier this month, which showed the Queensland and Victoria capitals were both holding up well with the increase in numbers.
National carrier Qantas’ service is also on the mend, with independent figures revealing its on-time departures leapt from 45 per cent in July to 62 per cent in August.
Across the entire industry that month, on-time arrivals stood at 68.5 per cent and departures at 68.8 per cent, compared to 55 per cent and 54 per cent respectively in July.
However, the BITRE report from the department of transport warned that the figures are still “significantly lower” than the long-term performance, including pre-pandemic data.