NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says roughly five million people in the state will need to be fully vaccinated before international borders can reopen safely, amid growing pressure to set a roadmap of recovery.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says more Australians need to be vaccinated before we can have a conversation about opening the nation’s borders as a record number of jabs were delivered in NSW.
“I don’t want us to be closed off from the world longer than we need to,” the NSW premier told reporters on Tuesday.
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Ms Berejiklian appears keener to pursue open borders than Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is sticking to a mid-2022 timeline.
Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid is also backing calls for the federal government to set a date to open international borders, saying a timeline would motivate Australians to get vaccinated.
Ms Berejiklian says community safety always has to come first, “but we also believe that you can make some decisions about easing restrictions or opening up to the rest of the world, with facts and science backing you”.
“We’re not in a position to have those conversations until we get cracking and that’s why I’m really keen to make sure we provide a safe vaccine to as much of our population as soon as possible,” the premier said.
Her treasurer Dominic Perrottet is also urging clarity on when borders will open.
He told ABC radio on Tuesday it’s a “very difficult conversation” to have with Australians because allowing travellers in means the virus will re-enter the country.
“We can sit here on the other side of the world and remain closed or we can actually understand where the federal health officials are coming from and saying, well whether it’s vaccination rates or any other measures, this is what success looks like, and once we get to this point, we’ll open up those borders and rejoin the world,” he said.
The federal government has so far shied away from identifying a threshold of vaccinations that would allow border restrictions to ease.
Ms Berejiklian said five million adults in NSW will need to get the jab before international borders can open.
That’s ten million doses in total for the state’s six million adults.
NSW is currently edging closer to immunising a million people – with 938,879 COVID-19 jabs given to date.
Virgin Australia CEO taken out of context
The NSW premier’s comments came as Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka called for international borders to reopen long before mid-2022, saying we eventually need to learn to live with COVID-19 and that “some people may die but it will be way smaller than with the flu”.
This statement caused outrage for some, with the mainstream media channels jumping on it and some taking to social media to air their views.
In response to the comments, Virgin Australia released a statement that read: “We agree with State and Federal leaders that eradication of COVID-19 cannot be the goal for our country. The question is not if, but when we will be sufficiently vaccinated to protect our people and our hospital system to open our international borders.
“We must learn to live with COVID-19 in the community in a way that protects the health and safety of our people but also opens Australia up to the rest of the world.”
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