Australia’s vaccination plan and the reopening of borders

For a long time, infection rates in Australia were low because of the strict ‘zero-Covid’ policy. Unfortunately, this meant that the vaccination programme was very slow to get off the ground and frustration grew. In addition, infection rates are increasing rapidly.

The government has recently published an updated plan, which sets new vaccination targets. Four phases are outlined as the way out of the pandemic. Within the first phase – phase A – the goal is to have 70% of the population vaccinated twice. Minister Morrison has indicated that he is confident of achieving this target by the end of this year. Currently, just over 38% of the population over the age of 16 have been vaccinated twice.

If it is indeed realistic to reach the 70% mark, Australia will move to phase B. In Phase B, restrictions on international arrivals and the number of flights will continue to exist. Once 80% of the population has been fully vaccinated, phase C will slowly allow more inbound and outbound international travel between ‘safe’ countries. It is expected that less strict requirements will be applied to fully vaccinated travellers.

In the final phase – phase D – life will go back to as normal as possible. International borders will finally be (fully) opened again. Australia will treat Covid-19 like any other infectious disease from then on. This is with the aim of keeping the number of cases to a minimum, without constant lockdowns and restrictions. However, the quarantine requirements will continue to apply, for example, to high-risk inbound travellers.

The minister said he would not set timetables for all phases as this, he said, “is now in the hands of Australians, together with state and territory governments and the federal government”.