Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested a “traffic light system” moving forward for Australian and overseas travel as the first plane of New Zealand travellers arrived quarantine-free in NSW.
Mr Morrison met with the National Security Committee on Friday to discuss details about future international travel.
It comes as New Zealanders arrived in NSW and the Northern Territory as part of a ‘green zone’ deal with the land of the long white cloud for the first time since both countries closed their borders.
The green zone allows Australians and New Zealanders to not only visit each other’s countries but also without quarantining. A health screening still occurs on landing.
Looking forward, Mr Morrison said “we’re many months” off visiting and welcoming people from other countries.
“The medical expert panel is already considering various options about that, how that can be achieved using a traffic light system for the various countries,” Mr Morrison said.
“It does involve looking at the many other quarantine options that could be made available from home isolation to corporates who are returning various workers from various parts of the world and being able to put in place their own corporate arrangements for quarantine that would meet standards that would need to be in place.
“That would be at least equivalent to what is done in the publicly-run facilities or supported, I should say, through the hotel quarantine arrangements for returning Australian citizens.”
The PM added the focus is on the “new normal” and while the government will work on bringing Australians home across the globe he also wants to get “back to a safe level of engaging with the rest of the world”.
He estimated about 230 Kiwis had visited Australia on Friday.
“That's a real turning point from where we were just over six months ago. And here we are, already, before the end of the year, getting at least to some new point of normal when it comes to COVID-safe travel,” he said.
“But it has to be done safely.”
A “real turning point” it is. Only last month, Health Minister Greg Hunt believed international travel wouldn’t be back until mid-December.
Mr Hunt said it was part of the human biosecurity emergency period which was activated in March.
What is a traffic light system?
A traffic light system was previously floated by Nathan Grills, Associate Professor at the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne.
Under Associate Professor Grills’ proposal, people travelling from ‘green’ states into another Australian state or territory would be subject to a simple temperature test, while those travelling from blue areas like NSW would have to return a negative test before travelling interstate.
Those in red states, like Victoria, would have to be forced to quarantine for at least seven days until they return a negative test.
Associate Professor Grills said after seeing how the traffic light system worked within Australia, it could be put in place at an international level.
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