Daniel Andrews says the number of international arrivals landing in the country must be slashed and a national vaccination target agreed upon if the country is to have any hope of preventing future lockdowns.
The Victorian Premier made the bold call earlier in the week as four capital cities across Australia were plunged into lockdown after Covid-19 infections leaked out of quarantine hotels.
Ahead of a crucial national cabinet meeting on Friday, Mr Andrews noted four “key areas” Australian authorities would need to focus on in a bid to chart a course out of the pandemic.
He outlined his four talking points at national cabinet in a statement on Friday morning:
- A nationally consistent approach to reducing numbers of international arrivals in hotel quarantine until greater vaccine coverage has been reached.
- Refining the eligibility criteria for Australians to travel abroad and to return home.
- A nationally agreed vaccination target that would allow for the application of different quarantine arrangements based on stratified risk assessments of incoming travellers.
- Options for safer, commonwealth-led alternatives to hotel quarantine that can be used both in the short term and as part of an ongoing reset once a vaccination target has been reached.
“Australians want to know that there’s a plan to get us through this pandemic,” the Premier said.
“This is the work that needs to happen to get us there and people are entitled to expect their governments to work together to get it done.
“We have a critical window to get our population vaccinated, defeat this pandemic and return to a sense of free and normal life.
“Locking some people out is much better than locking everybody down. That‘s the government’s position, that’s my position and that’s what I’ll argue at national cabinet today.”
The Premier said there had been 4.9 failures per 1000 positive cases in hotel quarantine across the country – meaning one outbreak from quarantine was expected for every 204 infected travellers.
Since April 2020, on average 308 infected travellers arrived in Australia each month, amounting to 1.5 outbreaks expected per month, Mr Andrews’ statement highlighted.
On Tuesday, Mr Andrews said international arrivals should be culled by 75 per cent.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk backed the call, saying lockdowns in major cities were “ because the overseas arrivals are bringing the virus here”.
Sydney accepts the most international arrivals with 430 people per day, or more than 3000 per week.
Brisbane has the second highest intake at 1300, followed by Melbourne (1000), Adelaide and Perth (530).
Darwin accommodates the additional return of Australians on government facilitated commercial services.