As Australia reaches the 80 per cent vaccination milestone – which is now on track for November – we can start to look forward to international travel. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave some hints on where we will be able to travel to first as well as what quarantining for return travellers will look like. Here are five things that you need to know.
Qantas earlier this month revealed a number of destinations they have earmarked for international travel. Included in the list is the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Fiji. Prime Minster Scott Morrison has also reiterated plans that we will be travelling to these countries. He also confirmed that Australians will also be allowed on overseas holidays even if some state borders are still closed when 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated. He said international travel can restart for any state that wants it.
2. Vaccinated travel lanes
Overseas, Singapore has allowed quarantine-free travel from Germany after the European nation completed vaccinating 80 per cent of its population. The so-called ‘vaccinated travel lane’ started last week for fully jabbed travellers but excludes under 12s for whom there are no approved vaccine. Instead of quarantining for 14 days, arrivals will have to get tested when they lane in Singapore and isolate at home or in a hotel until they receive a negative result. This is a model that Australia hopes to follow.
3. Post-travel quarantine
A government trial home quarantine for returning international travellers will finish this weekend in South Australia, with the outcome of the pilot program to be examined by national and state health authorities. The program is set to use this as the basis for returning international travellers coming home from ‘low risk’ countries. And rather than forking out $3000 for a government arranged hotel, it’s expected that travellers will be spending post-travel quarantine at home for seven days.
4. Monitoring home quarantine
A cornerstone of the trial was the use of smartphone technology to monitor and enforce the stay-at-home rule. Available for Android and iOS devices, the Home Quarantine SA app is designed to “ensure that people are compliant with their home quarantine direction, and ensures they are at their approved home quarantine address”. The app automatically confirmed each person’s location at random times throughout the day, using GPS check-in plus facial recognition as an additional layer of security. It also asked travellers to complete daily COVID-19 symptom checks and kept them informed of their required testing schedules. The only times that participants in the trial were allowed to leave home was to visit a drive-through Covid test centre, which had to be done in their own vehicle rather than using taxi or rideshare services or public transport. The model for the app could be used Australia wide.
5. Vaccine passports
They’ve rolled them out in Britain, and they’ve rolled them out in France. The likelihood that vaccine passports will be part of travel is high. While there were protests and claims about the erosion of liberty and freedom, when President Emanuel Macron revealed residents would need a ‘health pass’, it prompted 2.2 million French to roll up their sleeves and register. There has already been talks in NSW that in order to head to the pub or to eat at a restaurant, we will need proof of vaccinations. It is most likely that we too will also require to travel. Cruise lines like P&O have said they will also accept vaccinated passengers, which will mean proof of vaccination.