The NSW government’s plan to remove quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international travelers starting next month has taken other Australian states by surprise and prompted a rethinking of national border controls.
Queensland Health Director Jeannette Young said the border configuration will have to be reassessed if New South Wales allows international travel without quarantine from November, but does not yet have enough information on the plan.
“There has been a huge change this morning that I have not been able to understand,” he told reporters on Friday.
“So I need to go and find out what that change means, and it’s not just a change that will have an impact on New South Wales. The opening of the borders to New South Wales leads to a flow to all other states.
“So I just have to recalibrate my thinking that I’ve been getting to for the past few weeks.”
The health director said it was too early to say whether restrictions on travel across the border would be tightened.
“Let me see it please let me review it, all I’ve seen so far is a very short text message,” Young said.
“I need to have a little more information than that, to determine what needs to be done.”
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the announcement from New South Wales made it even more critical for unvaccinated Queenslanders to go get the jab.
As of Wednesday, 71.4% of eligible residents had received one dose of a vaccine and 54.8% were fully vaccinated.
“If you get your vaccine today, it will be five to six weeks before you are fully covered by that vaccine, and that is why you cannot afford to wait,” D’Ath said.
Queensland has yet to set a vaccination date or threshold to open its borders, but had hinted that it could be targeting late November or early December.
D’Ath said more people needed to take the hit before the government published a formal roadmap to reopen the borders.
“We can’t talk about the plan and openness if Queenslanders don’t go out and get vaccinated in large numbers,” he said.
Queensland is currently testing home quarantine for 400 returning residents.
Victoria’s Health Minister Martin Foley indicated that the state would continue its own home quarantine test and continue to use hotel quarantine. He said the state had not seen details of the NSW plan, other than a press release.
“Good in NSW. I can’t speak to what they think. Victoria is adhering to the plan of the national cabinet for the reopening of international borders, ”he said.
“We are participating in the home quarantine test as part of that arrangement and that is what we will do. Our hotel quarantine system continues to work; continues to meet the limits for international returnees. “
When asked if someone who flew from London via Sydney to Melbourne would be forced to self-quarantine, Foley said: “They will have to comply with the permit systems that apply in Victorian circumstances. The NSW government just announced this, as I understand it. We have yet to see the details. “
Australian Capital Territory Prime Minister Andrew Barr said it was “delicate” to draw a distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated arrivals.
“My understanding of the national data is that it is about four out of every 1,000 international arrivals that test positive at this time,” he said. “That is actually a lower rate of positivity from international arrivals than is circulating in the community right now.”