Saying something and doing nothing doesn’t often get very far. When Australia noted that previous plans to remain closed for years were likely to be scrapped in favor of a rapid reopening as soon as December 2021, it felt like lip service.
But now, just weeks after the initial murmurs, change appears to be on the way, and even sooner. Australia will begin trialling home quarantine in NSW from next month, and is launching vaccination passports, in a separate trial.
A fresh list of trusted countries which could benefit from the vaccination passports has also been released, which could be big news for visitors coming from abroad.
Australia Pushing Forward With Vaccination Passports & Home Quarantine
Australian Diplomats will be the first to trial vaccination passports, which could prove to be the key to reopening Australia for international travel. The passports would allow visitors from trusted countries back in, and allow fully vaccinated Australians to leave and return freely.
In a major update, officials say a 7 day home quarantine pilot program will begin in October, serving airports in New South Wales.
The NSW and Commonwealth governments will launch a home quarantine pilot in Greater Sydney next month, as NSW transitions towards opening up international borders.
The pilot, to be operated and monitored by NSW Health and NSW Police, will trial a seven day home quarantine program for around 175 people. Participants in the pilot will have had both doses of a TGA-accredited COVID-19 vaccine.
The participants will be selected by NSW Health, based on a risk assessment framework, and may include some NSW residents, some non-Australian residents and some Qantas air crew.NSW Government
Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who has come under considerable fire for what the Times of London and Spectator dubbed “Prison Island”, is quickly shifting gears to recognize the importance of the new trials. It appears attempts to safely reopen the country are now genuine.
“This is the next step in our plan to safely reopen, and to stay safely open,”Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia
Australia remains quite a ways off of its vaccination goal of 80% before borders can reopen, but once they do, plans are to allow fully vaccinated Japanese, Singaporean, South Korean, British and US travelers, as well as those from many neighboring Pacific Islands to benefit from the vaccination passport program.
Travelers would submit their vaccination status, based on a full regimen of either AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson (Janssen), Moderna or Pfizer and receive a QR code to digitally confirm their vaccination status before travel.
“So when that international border opens we want to make sure we’re ready for people to be able to travel again and, you know, it’s incredibly important that we’re doing that preparatory work. Any inbound travelers vaccinated overseas must have received shots approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which includes Pfizer, AstraZenica, Moderna and Janssen Cilag,”Dan Tehan, Minister of Tourism & Trade for Australia, speaking to CNN
So, When Can We Visit Australia Again?
Unfortunately, it’s just too early to tell how well these trials will go, or whether they’ll lead to definitive action from the Australian Government that let you on a plane.
Word that some “non-Australian residents” would be able to participate in the NSW 7 day home trial is a positive sign that border restrictions could soon be relaxed for any fully vaccinated visitors willing to spend 7 days in home isolation.
The news bolsters previous indications from Qantas; and well briefed Australian officials, suggesting the country is certainly aiming to welcome back visitors from trusted partner nations under the vaccination passport program by December 2021.
For a country which just weeks ago was looking to sign deals for quarantine facilities through 2025, these official trial and pilot program announcements are a significant update to the Australian travel situation. It might be December, or maybe early 2022, but it sounds like Australia is working on a reopening plan — finally.