Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that international arrivals into Australia on commercial flights would be slashed by 50% to 3000 people a week.
This is to reduce pressure on quarantine facilities, due to the increased risks of the coronavirus Delta variant.
There will be additional arrivals at Darwin’s Howard Springs quarantine facility, although a number for this has not yet been set.
Howard Springs can currently take around 1000 people. Arrivals at this facility will be on top of the 3000 cap at Australia’s other ports.
Aircrew and those travelling as part of the New Zealand travel bubble will not be included in the cap numbers.
Mr Morrison said the 50 per cent reduction would be phased in gradually but was expected to be in place by July 14 and would not be increased until Australia had achieved certain vaccination targets, which have not yet been set although the Prime Minister indicated this may not be until next year.
Current cap arrangements
Sydney: 3010 per week
Brisbane: 1000 (plus 300 surge capacity)
Cap arrangements with 50 per cent reduction
Sydney: 1505 per week
Brisbane: 500 (plus 150 surge capacity)
The targets will be part of a four-phase plan for Australia’s pathway out of Covid-19 lockdowns.
During the first phase of the covid plan, a trial will also be undertaken of alternative quarantine options including home quarantine for vaccinated travellers.
“The work that we have already done … shows that a vaccinated person doing quarantine for seven days is stronger than an unvaccinated person doing quarantine for 14 days,” Mr Morrison said.
“There is clear medical evidence to suggest that vaccination means that shorter periods of quarantine is possible without any compromise of the health and safety standards that is currently delivered by a 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated persons.”
Vaccine passports coming
Mr Morrison said vaccine passports would be introduced for international travellers.
“We will recognise and adopt the Commonwealth’s existing digital Medicare vaccination certificate that is automatically generated for every vaccination,” the PM said.
“That is something that is already there now. By the end of the month, it will be at another level which would see it being able to be incorporated in things like Apple Wallets and the like. We will put in place a digital vaccination authentication at border.”
He said there would also be a further review of national hotel quarantine.
Last month, about 84 per cent of international arrivals were returning Australians, the Australian Border Force told state and territory leaders.
“We believe we’ll be in a position by the end of the year to have offered everyone a vaccine who seeks to have one,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
He said the vaccination target associated with the first phase had not yet been set but that Australia would hopefully be in phase two by next year.