Premiers of Australia’s top tourism states have agreed not to close their borders in response to the Omicron variant.
Victorian Premier Dan Andrews said he had been texting his NSW counterpart Dominic Perrotett over the weekend and both agreed they would not be pursuing “Omicron zero”, given the high vaccination rates of both states.
Andrews said Victoria will not close its borders to keep the new variant out as it has likely already reached the state.
“…we will not be pursuing an ‘Omicron zero’ here,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“We don’t think that makes any sense. It may already be here. The good news so far is whilst it’s more infectious, the evidence suggests it is milder.”
Perrottet said NSW would continue to follow its reopening road map, which will see more restrictions lifted on 15 December.
“We also know this variant won’t be the last one,” Perrottet said according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
“COVID-19 is not going anywhere anytime soon so we must learn to live alongside it. Going into lockdown or closing borders is not the solution; getting the jab is.”
Andrews also confirmed NSW and Victoria would keep movement between the states open for Christmas.
NSW Health announced a further 10 confirmed Omicron cases in the state this morning, bringing its total to 25.
It is not currently known if any of Victoria’s 16,503 active cases are of the Omicron variant.
On Sunday, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said Omicron is now present in 41 countries.
“We’re reviewing, daily and weekly, the travel restrictions. There are no plans to change the current proposals, but our message is very clear: safety and medical advice first,” Hunt said.
“So if the medical advice changes, then we change the rules in accordance with that.”
Speaking alongside Hunt, John Skerritt, head of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, said early indications show Omicron provides a “milder course of the disease”.
Last week, the Federal Government postponed reopening Australia’s international border until 15 December in response to Omicron and closed the border to eight Southern African nations, requiring Australians returning from South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, The Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.
The Australian Capital Territory, NSW and Victoria will continue to require 72 hours of home isolation for all international arrivals.