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"All we now need is you": Australia's gold medal vaccine race to the end of lockdowns

Prime minister Scott Morrison, who has come under fire for previously suggesting the vaccine rollout was not a race, is now championing a "gold medal" run to the end of the year and the start of better days for the travel and tourism industry.

Prime minister Scott Morrison, who has come under fire for previously suggesting the vaccine rollout was not a race, is now championing a “gold medal” run to the end of the year and the start of better days for the travel and tourism industry.

While the Tokyo Olympics will close this weekend, the vaccination race is officially on with federal and state governments now gunning for 70 per cent of people being fully vaccinated to shift phases in the fight against the pandemic.

Under the next stage as part of the government’s four-phase pathway, lockdowns will be less likely while 80 per cent coverage is expected to all but end city-wide shutdowns.

The prime minister said he wished targets were not as high but detailed scientific modelling guided the thresholds, which states and territories agreed on last week.

Mr Morrison said lockdowns in place across Sydney and southeast Queensland would not be as prevalent with high vaccine coverage.

“It gets a lot more surgical at that point,” he told 4BC radio on Monday.

“We start saying goodbye to them at 70 per cent and they become pretty much a thing of the past when we hit 80 per cent.”

Australia’s rollout is gathering momentum but still lags way behind most of the developed world with only 19 per cent of people aged over 16 fully vaccinated.

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Heathrow Airport

By comparison, to date, 50 per cent of the U.S population is fully vaccinated, while in the U.K, the number sits impressively at 72 per cent.

Both countries have relaxed travel restrictions with England moving to allow quarantine-free arrivals from the U.S and parts of the EU from today.

Mr Morrison said it was common sense that immunised residents would be able to be exempted from restrictions.

“It’s exemptions that would apply to people that are vaccinated because they’re taken the step to reduce their risk to other people and to themselves,” he said.

The latest federal government data shows 77 per cent of Australians are willing to receive a vaccine, with the number rising in recent months.

Mr Morrison is opposed to mandatory vaccinations and warned companies could be breaking employment laws if it became a requirement.

“It’s the wrong decision for Australia. It’s just not how we do things,” he told Melbourne radio 3AW last week.

He warned businesses would need to carefully ensure no anti-discrimination laws were breached.

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Meanwhile, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said last week that he believed vaccinations for employees should be a given for the airline sector.

“We believe that COVID vaccination should be a requirement for all aviation workers,” he said.

When it comes to only vaccinated travellers being allowed to fly, Joyce also flagged mirroring vaccination requirements for travellers in Israel, Iceland and some European countries when overseas travel returns on a larger scale.

“Internationally we absolutely will and that’s becoming a standard around the world,” he told ABC radio last Thursday.

Mr Morrison, who has come under fire for previously suggesting the rollout was not a race, is now championing a “gold medal” run to the end of the year.

“There will be enough supplies. There will be enough GPs, pharmacists and nurses to deliver the jabs. All we now need is you,” he wrote in The Australian.

Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said Australia would continue to be the land of lockdowns until the federal government boosted vaccination rates.

“In the midst of Scott Morrison’s self-congratulation, all that he has exhibited is complacency and incompetence,” he told reporters.

“That is why he and his government have been getting the pandemic wrong at every turn.”

Via AAP