Scott Morrison reveals Australia's 4-stage plan out of Covid lockdowns

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled the four-stage plan to reopen the nation amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, after consulting with state and territory leaders at National Cabinet, Mr Morrison revealed the plan, which was based off modelling from the Doherty Institute. 

"Last month I outlined a pathway together with my National Cabinet colleagues, a pathway that would take us to where we want to go," Mr Morrison told reporters. 

The Prime Minister has faced mounting pressure to acknowledge failures in the vaccine program after more than half the country entered lockdown. Source: AAP
The Prime Minister has faced mounting pressure to acknowledge failures in the vaccine program after more than half the country entered lockdown. Source: AAP

"Tonight we've agreed in principle the plan that will get us there and the targets that will get us there."

Moving through the stages to "freedom" is dependent on how many vaccine doses are administered throughout the country, and there is no set time when in phase is rolled out.

"We haven't put timelines on this because the timelines are now in the hands of all Australians together with state and territory governments and the federal government," the prime minister said.

"States and territories move into the next phase when one, the national average for the vaccination program as a percentage of eligible adults is achieved nationally and then that state itself has achieved the vaccination threshold in their own state," he explained. 

"So, it is like a two-key process."

A Doctor prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at District Hospital Pulwama, South of Srinagar.
A Doctor prepares to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at District Hospital Pulwama, South of Srinagar.

What Phase B will look like

Australia is currently in phase A. To get to phase B, 70 per cent of Australians who are eligible for a dose of a vaccine must be vaccinated.

The prime minister said in phase B, lockdown will be "less likely" but still a possibility.

"They are less likely I wish to stress and in targeted cases and more targeted cases, they may be necessary in those circumstances," he said. 

"But they are not something that you would normally expect because of the much higher level of vaccination and protection that exists within the country."

The cap on international arrivals will remain during this phase.

What Phase C will look like

Once Australia's average and a state or territory's vaccination rate is above 80 per cent, phase C will roll out.

"In this phase, the measures may include maximising the vaccination coverage, of course," Mr Morrison said. 

"Secondly, minimum ongoing baseline restrictions, adjusted to minimise cases without lockdowns."

During phase C, the cap on vaccinated Australians returning from abroad will be abolished and the cap on student, economic and humanitarian visa holders will be increased.

Australia will also seek to establish more travel bubbles, allowing fully-vaccinated vaccinated residents to travel.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference following a national cabinet meeting, at the Lodge in Canberra, Friday, July 30, 2021
State and territory leaders met on Friday at National Cabinet to discuss Australia's response to Covid-19. Source: AAP

For people to be approved for quarantine-free entry, they will have to be vaccinated with a jab recognised in Australia.

"There will be a gradual reopening of inward and out-bound international travel with safe countries," Mr Morrison announced. 

"Those that are have the same sort of vaccination levels that Australia has and proportionate quarantine and reduced requirements for fully vaccinated in-bound travellers."

What Phase D will look like

The prime minister said the final phase will see international borders open and quarantine for high-risk inbound travel only.

There is no set target regarding vaccines for the final phase yet.

"The final phase, there is not a vaccination target set at this point," Mr Morrison said. 

"One was not recommended by the Doherty Institute. It is too hard to say what the situation will be down the track."

That will include a booster shot program, which Mr Morrison is confident the country will have ample supplies for.

How many Australians are fully vaccinated

Just 18.2 per cent of people aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus more than five months after the rollout started.

The prime minister warned the emergence of a new variant could change the plan, while also signalling the continuation of a cautious approach to reopening.

"This is not about freedom days and things like that. We've always been in Australia taking our own path."

It is anticipated Australia could vaccinate 70 per cent of the country later this year.

National cabinet's new path out of the pandemic is based on scientific modelling from the Doherty Institute and advice from federal and state treasuries about economic impacts.

More to come.

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