Published on : Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Australians have been told to shred off passports after the Australian federal government announced that the country is going to start the trial of vaccine passports with some countries this week. This is known as the latest step in Australia’s reopening to the world.
Australia has already closed all of its borders almost 18 months ago in a bid to contain COVID-19. But now, with fully-vaccination rates rising and the country is possibly just months away from relaxing the travel restrictions on international travelling.
The Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that once 80% of Australia’s adult population has received both shots of the vaccination, the people will again be allowed to travel overseas.
In preparation for reopening, Minister for Trade and Tourism Dan Tehan said that the government would be trying vaccine passports with a number of major travel destinations through Australia’s diplomatic missions overseas.
Among the countries flagged were Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the US, as well as Australia’s neighbouring Pacific islands. Tehan said it would take the form of a QR code linked to real passports to prove vaccination records for outgoing and inbound travellers.
Any inbound travellers vaccinated overseas must have received shots approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which to date only includes Pfizer, AstraZenica, Moderna and Janssen Cilag, Tehan added. There are no Russian or Chinese-developed vaccines that have been approved by Australia’s TGA.
The move to relax Australia’s international borders comes as the country struggles to contain an outbreak of the highly contagious Delta variant, which has spread to the major population centres of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, leading to lengthy lockdowns.
Australia is forecast to hit the 80% double vaccination target for the adult population in late November. As of September 12, 42.3% of Australia’s adult population was fully vaccinated. Morrison said he hoped travellers arriving in Australia after borders reopened would be able to quarantine at home, instead of the existing hotel quarantine system.