Opening borders state borders once Australia reaches its 80 per cent vaccine target was never included in the national COVID plan, according to Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles.
Speaking to media at the launch of the state’s new vaccine advertising campaign, Miles responded to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s fresh assertion that state borders would be open by Christmas.
The Deputy Premier said Morrison should focus on diplomacy instead.
“Diplomacy is his job. International trade is his job. Vaccination should be his job, but we’re doing it. Quarantine should have been his job, but we’re doing it. Keeping COVID out of NSW was his job and he failed at it,” Miles said.
The Prime Minister reiterated his stance during an interview on Sunday while he was attending a ‘Quad’ meeting in the US with US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to ABC News.
Miles claimed the National Cabinet’s four-phase pathway out of COVID-19 restrictions never said borders would open once 80 per cent of eligible Australians are fully vaccinated.
“That’s not what the national plan ever said, but it is what the Prime Minister has continued to restate the plan said. I find it pretty incredible,” he said.
“This bloke is the master of distraction, isn’t he?”
The National Cabinet’s plan does not appear to explicitly mention state borders, though it does state that during Phase C, when we reach the 80 per cent target, vaccinated residents would be exempt from all domestic restrictions.
Travel Weekly has contacted the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to find out more, and we will update this article when we receive a response.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said it is now “safe” to book Christmas holidays.
“In NSW it is definitely safe to book for Christmas, to think ahead for the future, but also to definitely look at November as a month where you can start planning,” Berejiklian said during a National Parks announcement over the weekend.
However, it is still unclear if all states will be open by that time.
Berejiklian then said this morning that NSW would be a “COVID normal” state by 1 December.
“I don’t want to it be the case that I will be able to go overseas before I can go to Perth,” the NSW Premier said.
“I hope Australia will open up together once we get to those double-dose figures and we will be able to, as one nation, move freely within our own country as well as have the opportunity to go overseas.”
Berejiklian said lockdown restrictions across the state would begin to ease from 11 October, with travel through regional NSW expected to resume for fully-vaccinated people once the state hits the 80 per cent vaccination rate.
“Pleasingly, we have officially passed the 85 per cent first dose vaccination in NSW which is just outstanding, and we are looking forward obviously to seeing that number continue,” she said.
“So can I please encourage everybody in NSW to come forward and get vaccinated if you haven’t already done so. Our double dose has been confirmed now at 60 per cent.
“We are literally just a few weeks away from having that 70 per cent double dose, and 12- to 15-year-olds already 40 per cent have received their first dose, which is fantastic.”
The NSW Premier said the state should reach a 70 per cent vaccinated population by 11 October and 80 per cent a fortnight after that.
Meanwhile, Western Australia has tightened its restrictions against Victoria, with Premier Mark McGowan announcing the state would be upgraded to the “extreme risk” category from Wednesday.
“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by the growing outbreak in Victoria,” McGowan said.
“As the situation there continues to escalate, we need to do everything we can to protect Western Australia, while we continue to get as many people vaccinated.
“This means Western Australians currently in Victoria with an approved G2G Pass should come home immediately, because once the reclassification kicks in, they will not be able to do so, except for the most extraordinary circumstances.”
Those travelling from states categorised as “extreme” risk need special approval to enter WA, and will need to attend hotel quarantine for 14 days upon arrival; have returned a negative COVID test 72 hours before departing,; get tested on days one, five and 13; and have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Featured image source: Facebook/Steven Miles