Vaccinated Aussies could be permitted to travel overseas with relaxed quarantine requirements in as soon as six weeks, according to a plan outlined by the Health Minister.
Greg Hunt told the Coalition party room the government has set up a task force to examine what the vaccine could mean for Australia’s travel rules, according to The Guardian.
Following a question from Liberal MP Jason Falinski about the vaccine’s capacity to exempt Aussies from both outbound and inbound travel restrictions on Tuesday, Hunt revealed a plan that could lessen travel restrictions for vaccinated people may be piloted within six weeks.
The Health Minister said modelling had kicked off on Monday and a trial program could begin in six to eight weeks’ time.
The plan could be extended to countries with trusted vaccination verification programs like the UK, the US, Canada and Singapore.
If it is extended, the plan could be used to help get some of the 40,000 Aussies still stranded overseas home.
According to The Guardian, the federal government is also considering introducing different quarantine rules based on the likelihood of a new arrival bringing COVID-19 back to Australia.
This could see fully vaccinated Australians returning from low-risk countries being allowed to leave quarantine after returning negative results to a rapid antigen test, and then a full COVID-19 test.
Currently, everyone who enters Australia from overseas has to attend a mandatory two-week quarantine at a government-approved facility, with the exception of New Zealand.
Under the trans-Tasman travel bubble, Aussies and Kiwis are allowed to travel between the two countries without quarantining, making New Zealand the only country categorised as a “green zone”.
A spokesperson for Hunt told Travel Weekly that the minister has been clear on the government’s plans.
“The minister had previously stated on a number of occasions that vaccination may bring forward the capacity of vaccinated people to travel,” the spokesperson said.
“Advice was consistent with that.”
Challenge to Australia’s outbound travel ban rejected by Federal Court
Meanwhile, the Federal Court has canned a right-wing think tank’s challenge to Australia’s travel ban.
The Federal Court in NSW published an order on its website advising it had dismissed LibertyWork’s bid to overturn the Health Minister’s ban on overseas travel, which the lobby group claimed posed a risk to the fundamental rights of Australians.
Court documents said the judgement outlined section 477 of the Biosecurity Act 2015 which gives Health Minister Hunt “the power to determine emergency requirements during a human biosecurity emergency period”.
The judgement also revealed the Australian Border Force rejected an application for one of the think tank’s employees to attend a conference in London prior to the court challenge.
LibertyWorks has been ordered to pay the Commonwealth’s costs as a result of the ruling.
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