Fully-vaccinated Australians could be travelling overseas by November, with the federal government revealing it will have a “vaccine passport” up and running in the coming weeks.
On Wednesday, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said establishing a vaccine certification scheme, or vaccine passport, would be a key part of resuming international travel.
“We’ll have to make [sure] that we can put in place a system which enables recognition of your vaccination, so a vaccination certification scheme, a vaccination certificate,” he told a press conference.
“And we are in the process of planning that so that in the coming weeks we will have a system up and ready so that, when we hit that 70 per cent vaccination mark and we hit that 80 per cent vaccination mark, Australians will be able to travel overseas again.”
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the 80 per cent vaccination target that will see international borders open will apply state by state.
He said the National Cabinet’s plan clearly stated that if New South Wales were to reach the target before other states, or of other states were reluctant to open at that target, NSW would still be permitted to open its international border.
States with an increased vaccination rate, like NSW and Victoria, have been projected to hit the 80 per cent target in November, with Queensland and Western Australia expected to follow suit around December, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Morrison’s comment follows a spate of attacks made by the federal government against state leaders who are hesitant about opening their international borders in line with the target.
The Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews accused Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of “scaremongering” after she raised concerns about the cabinet’s vaccine targets leaving out children.
Treasurer Josh Freydenburg went as far as threatening to cut federal government support to Western Australia if it didn’t stick to the National Cabinet’s plan.
Tehan said the 80 per cent vaccination target could also see Australia broaden its “bubbles” by the end of this year.
“We’ve been in talks with certain Pacific islands, with Singapore, about expanding bubbles,” he said.
“So, the hope is that we’ll be able to build up on those bubbles so we’ll see travel taking place.
“Hopefully, we might see some occurring before Christmas, but definitely next year, especially with the way the ramp-up with the vaccination is going.”
For vaccination certificates to be recognised overseas, Tehan said the government was developing a QR code with the International Civil Aviation Organisation that would allow the certificates to be recognised across the globe.
He said a system would also be put in place to allow free movement for domestic travel and events throughout Australia.
“We’ll be looking at developing a QR code which works with state and territory apps so that where you’re required to prove that you’ve got a vaccination certificate, you’ll be able to do so in a very simple way,” he said.
“That will make it easier for Australians to be able to travel, to meet up at Christmas, for sporting events like the Ashes.
“It will also mean when you’re going to other events, whether it be concerts, whether it’s the theatre, that you’ll be able to demonstrate quite clearly your vaccination certification.”
Featured image source: iStock/Andrey Rykov