Prime Minister Scott Morrison has set the framework for a national reopening plan, calling for domestic borders to open by Christmas, when vaccination rates hit 70 to 80 per cent.
Speaking after National Cabinet, the PM said the national reopening plan was agreed to by all states, with the exception of WA.
“We agreed in principle with the reopening framework for Australia by Christmas,” Morrison said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has urged all states and territories to reopen together, as premiers and chief ministers continue to signal they will forge individual paths out of the pandemic.
Mr Frydenberg said jobs would be lost and businesses fail if lockdowns continued after the thresholds were met.
“Australia should open up as one,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
“That is why it is really important whether you’re in Western Australia, whether you’re in Queensland or whether you’re in the southern states you should follow the plan.”
Victoria’s first triple-figure case increase for a year prompted the state government to retain almost all of Melbourne’s harsh lockdown measures.
Instead, Melburnians will have to wait until 70 per cent first-dose vaccine coverage is achieved – expected on September 23 – for more freedom.
Mr Frydenberg believes the Victorian government has acknowledged eradicating the virus is no longer possible.
“It can’t be done. No other country has done it and based on the best medical advice we have we can’t do it,” the treasurer said.
“So we have to learn to live with the virus.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian declared eliminating the Delta strain was impossible.
Despite her state recording another 1116 local cases on Wednesday, she is anticipating international travel will restart in mid-November.
Thousands of Australians stranded overseas could be welcomed into NSW when the 80 per cent vaccine coverage target is met.
More than 40,000 people are registered to come home with the number increasing because of slashed arrival caps put in place because of Delta strain outbreaks.
“New South Wales looks forward to stepping up and welcoming thousands of Australians home who have been waiting to come home for a long time,” Ms Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.
Earlier this week, PM Scott Morrison also called for home quarantine to become the norm, urging Queensland to move to home quarantine, which is being trialled in South Australia, to solve capacity issues in hotel quarantine.
The PM wants quarantine facilities to be reserved for international travellers such as backpackers and returning Australians.
“The answer for quarantine going forward is actually home quarantine,” Mr Morrison told 4BC radio on Tuesday.
Mr Morrison said countries with high vaccination rates like the United Kingdom and Japan could be the first to join travel bubbles when Australia reaches high vaccination coverage.
He said dedicated quarantine facilities would be used for international travellers rather than returning Australians.
“I want to see home quarantine become the norm.”
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