Prime Minister Scott Morrison says unless a vaccine is found Australia may have to live with some coronavirus restrictions for years.
Mr Morrison met with National Cabinet on Friday to outline border restrictions moving forward.
At a press conference after the meeting he said “no one is asking anyone” to take down borders yet, but states and territories, except Western Australia, have agreed to work at taking borders down by Christmas.
“In the absence of a vaccine, we may have to live this way for years, and we need it to be a sustainable and workable for as long as possible,” he said.
“And so I need to encourage everyone that we need to look beyond just the ‘now’. No one is asking anyone to take anyone's borders down now. No one's asking that.
“It's about when we get to the next stage and what the next stage looks like, and then how that works not just for the next few months, but potentially years, but let's hope that that's not necessary.”
New Zealanders to be invited to Australia
Mr Morrison said he spoke with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Friday and he was looking to adopt a similar hot spot model.
It would mean people from virus hotspots wouldn’t be able to travel between the two countries. However, National Cabinet is yet to define what a hotspot is.
Mr Morrison wants a hotspot model in place by Christmas.
“So, that means, when we're in a position to do so, and when the Acting Chief Medical Officer has come to a set of arrangements with New Zealand, then we would be able to have New Zealanders come to Australia,” he said.
“That doesn't mean Australians can go to New Zealand.
“That's a matter for Prime Minister Ardern but if there's no COVID in Christchurch, and there's no COVID in Queensland, then there's no reason both of them can't come to Sydney.
“And that will mean, I think, an important boost for our tourist economy, whether it's in New South Wales or anywhere else.”
WA shoots down hotspot idea
WA Premier Mark McGowan said he will not agree to a hotspot model after a “productive discussion” with National Cabinet.
“Right now, a hot spot model of travel restrictions is simply not as effective as a hard border given the level of community transmission in other states,” Mr McGowan told reporters on Friday.
“A hot spot model relies on factors outside of our control and it significantly increases the risk of an outbreak.
“And for that reason, at this stage, the hard border will stand until the health advice says otherwise.”
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles also said the state would not “be bullied” into re-opening its borders.
“Our border closures have kept Queenslanders safe and allowed our economic recovery to begin,” he tweeted after the cabinet meeting.
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