Prime minister Scott Morrison has outlined a four-phase plan for “a pathway out of the Covid-19 pandemic” which includes the end of lockdowns, no more domestic restrictions for vaccinated Australians, and unlimited arrival caps for vaccinated travellers.
On Friday, Morrison announced that the federal government and the states and territories had all agreed to the four-phase plan.
The following stages were announced at a press conference on Friday, with more detail to be provided later.
No dates have been set for the various phases, with Morrison saying they were dependent on vaccination targets that are yet to be determined.
By the end of the third phase, the prime minister said Covid-19 would be treated like the flu or “any other infectious disease”. Phase four would be “completely back to normal”.
Morrison said stage one would be known as “vaccinate, prepare, and pilot”.
Under stage one, the international arrivals cap will be reduced by 50%, to cope with the increased transmissibility of the Delta variant and “reduce pressure” on the hotel quarantine system. It is expected the reduction will be in place until at least the end of the year.
At the same time, some states will trial a system where returned vaccinated travellers will be able to quarantine at home for only seven days, rather than 14 days in a hotel.
On Friday, Morrison said South Australia had indicated it would be willing to be part of a trial.
Under phase two the international arrivals cap would be restored to previous levels for unvaccinated travellers, with a separate, larger cap for vaccinated travellers.
Under the second phase, Morrison said that lockdowns would only occur “in extreme circumstances”.
Vaccinated residents would also have eased restrictions under any lockdown, or similar rules.
On Friday, Morrison said we would “possibly” be at phase two in 2022.
“It’s hard to give you a definitive answer because we haven’t set what that [vaccination] target is,” he said. “I hope we would be going into that second phase next year.”
However, he said this meant that phase one with its halved arrival cap, would be in place until at least the start of 2022.
The third phase would be treating Covid like any other infectious disease, Morrison said.
Under phase three, there would be no lockdowns, no cap on returning vaccinated travellers, and no domestic restrictions for vaccinated residents. There could also be a travel bubble with countries like Singapore.
Under phase three, “we should treat it like the flu, and that means no lockdowns,” Morrison said. He also said there would be increased, though capped, entries for international students.
Stage four would be a return to a pre-pandemic normal, although still with pre- and post-flight testing for people arriving in Australia.
Morrison declined to set out a timeframe for phase four, or earlier phases.
“Those vaccination targets that have to be set by the modelling.”