A new pilot program has been flagged that would allow vaccinated Australians the chance to travel internationally and return home under relaxed restrictions that could begin sooner than we thought.
Australians who’ve rolled up their sleeves and been vaccinated against COVID-19 might be able to travel internationally and return back to Australia with less strict quarantine requirements under a plan that could be trialled in six to eight weeks.
“What?” We hear you cry.
According to a report by The Guardian, federal health minister, Greg Hunt, revealed the proposal in the Coalition party room on Tuesday 1 June, following a question from Liberal MP Jason Falinski, who had asked whether vaccination could see people exempted from outbound and inbound travel restrictions.
The health minister said modelling began on Monday and a pilot program could begin in six to eight weeks’ time.
If the trial is successful, it could mean that vaccinated people in Australia or in countries where vaccination status can be reliably verified – such as the UK, US, Canada, and Singapore, could travel between low-risk counties – in an initiative similar to the current UK traffic light system.
Pressure has been mounting on the federal government to provide incentives to get vaccinated and ease the international travel ban, which has seen families separated since March 2020.
About 40,000 Australians are still stranded overseas, desperate to return home. This has been made difficult due to flight caps and limited hotel quarantine beds.
However, if this was to go ahead, it could see the Australian Government introducing red, amber and green country lists, based on the risk of bringing coronavirus back to Australia, with different quarantine rules to each destination being applied.
If returning vaccinated passengers from green countries could quarantine at home until they have recieved a negative COVID-19 test back, it could free up hotel quarantine beds for those needing to be repatriated from higher-risk countries, such as India.
Although nothing has been set in stone just yet, and we don’t know what the plan looks like at this stage, it is a promising sign for those stranded or missing family overseas.