Earlier this week, the PM said the answer for Australia’s quarantine situation moving forward is home quarantine, which is currently being trialled in South Australia. This announcement, and the quarantine centres set to be built in numerous states, raised questions for Chimu Adventures co-founder Chad Carey.
In recent months states such as Victoria and Queensland have been very public about their desire to construct large scale guarantee facilities for arriving international travellers.
This week Scott Morrison appeared to support the idea of constructing these facilities for incoming international visitors, even he’s advocating for Australian residents to be able to quarantine at home.
It seems strange to me that we’d be considering using taxpayers money to construct these large facilities given that there seems little evidence to support them being needed in the longer term.
Clearly, Australia’s border closure policy has been popular domestically during the pandemic, but by the end of the year most Australians will be vaccinated and that will mean that the threat of COVID-19 to the wider population will greatly dissipate.
According to the economist, worldwide travel restriction and quarantine should be abolished given that double vaccinated travellers who have had a PCR test prior to travel have almost no impact within a country where community transmission is already present.
In the example provided by the economist, on August 10th, only 19 of the 21,038 cases reported in the United States were from incoming international travellers.
Although the reopening of international travel continues to be patchy, there are very few other countries pursuing a long term strategy of hotel quarantine.
Europe is now a free travel zone for double vaccinated passengers and any US resident can travel internationally, only requiring a PCR test once they return.
No other large western democracy is looking to quarantine passengers from other low-risk COVID countries.
If Australia is pursuing COVID zero then continued quarantine makes sense.
If, as per the federal government’s current policy, Australia intends to start living with COVID once we achieve an 80% vaccination rate, then quarantine is illogical from that point forward.
All it serves to do is to cripple the travel industry and keep Australia’s status as a hermit nation.
Why would foreign travellers want to take a holiday to Australia if there is a quarantine requirement? Which business people would want to come to Australia to explore opportunities for the same reason?
So let’s ask ourselves why we are allowing state premiers to spend taxpayer money on constructing white elephant quarantine facilities before they get too far ahead of themselves.
If the government wants to find a more suitable use for that money, then the need to look no further than supporting desperate tourism business, firstly by opening borders fully and secondly by providing financial support to tourism businesses to recover.
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