Australia’s two largest states and the ACT are in lockdown as the Delta strain of COVID-19 takes its toll while others are standing firm on a policy of eradication. The result is a country at a policy impasse and divided by border restrictions.
And – it is not just businesses in lockdown that are in crisis. Tourism and hospitality businesses that rely on interstate trade are equally impacted but financial assistance is often limited or non-existent if they are not in a hotspot; and the arts industry has been decimated.
At the time of writing, Australia is on track to fully vaccinate the eligible population of 20.62 million adults in December 2021. Based on National Cabinet’s four stage roadmap to normal, Australia should move to phase B of the plan when 70% of the eligible population have received their second dose of the vaccine.
|Phase B – 70% of eligible population fully vaccinated||It is expected that lockdowns will be “less likely” and special rules will apply to the fully vaccinated.|
|Phase C – 80% eligible population fully vaccinated||The plan is for Australia to return to “baseline restrictions” with no caps on returning visitors, and a gradual opening of inward and outward international travel with safe countries (quarantine requirements will still apply but will be reduced).|
|Phase D – Final Post-Vaccination Phase||This phase will see us working to live with Covid-19 – management consistent with influenza and other infectious diseases. We should see international borders open, with quarantining only required for high-risk inbound travellers.|
In “Team Australia”, not all players are the same. While some regions remain in an eradication phase, the strategy for opening and returning to normal is necessarily different (assuming these regions remain Delta free).
In NSW and Victoria, the hope of defeating Delta has been abandoned. The focus is now on bringing the population up to the maximum vaccination level to prevent hospitalisations and death.
In QLD and WA however, the strategy for opening is more complex – with the bar being raised well beyond the national plan (eg Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has stated she wants children under 12 be included in vaccination targets).