More Australian borders open by Christmas
Andrew Brown and Matt Coughlan
(Australian Associated Press)
Australia is expected to allow quarantine-free travel for fully vaccinated international arrivals into at least four states before Christmas.
South Australia will scrap isolation requirements for overseas and domestic travellers with two coronavirus jabs when the state reaches 90 per cent immunisation coverage.
Premier Steven Marshall expects the milestone to be reached before Christmas, weeks after state borders open on November 23.
Victoria and NSW will permit double-jabbed overseas arrivals to enter Melbourne and Sydney without having to isolate from Monday.
Tasmania has set December 15 as the date it will throw open borders to international and domestic travellers.
All travellers will be required to test negative for coronavirus.
The SA government’s announcement further isolates Western Australia, which is likely to remain shut to countries, states and territories with coronavirus until next year.
The massive backlog of returning Australians will be the first to benefit from the new international travel arrangements before migrant workers, international students and tourists.
Australia is on track for one of the world’s highest vaccination rates, with more than 74 per cent of over-16s now fully vaccinated.
In excess of 87 per cent have received at least one dose.
The vaccine rollout – plagued by delays for months – is expected to soon include booster shots for the general public.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration and Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation met with Health Minister Greg Hunt on Monday.
Mr Hunt said a decision on third jabs for the wider population was imminent.
“Over the next coming days, I expect to receive the final advice of the TGA on the booster program,” he told parliament on Tuesday.
“As we go forward, we continue to save lives and protect lives.”
People with severely compromised immune systems are eligible for top-up vaccines.
Aged care residents and older Australians are likely to be next to receive third shots when the booster program expands.
All states and territories have passed the 60 per cent two-dose coverage, with WA the last state to reach the mark.
Case numbers rose slightly in Victoria with 1510 new infections and four deaths reported on Tuesday.
There was a slight drop in NSW cases with 282 recorded, along with another death, while Canberra detected 12 new cases.
Queensland registered two new local cases – a teenage boy who was a close contact of a person that travelled from NSW, and a woman in home quarantine after being in Melbourne.