Australia has outlined plans to end the threat of lockdown through a four-point plan as major city Sydney’s entertainment venues entered a new two-week closure.
Following a National Cabinet meeting, the Government has agreed to a roadmap that goes from ‘Current phase – Vaccinate, prepare and pilot’ through to ‘Final phase’, when all restrictions on international travel will cease for all vaccinated persons and those who produce a negative COVID-19 test.
The National Cabinet agreed to formulate a plan to transition Australia’s National COVID Response from its current pre vaccination settings to one where the country begins to live with the threat of the virus. This will focus on continued suppression of community transmission, to post vaccination settings focussed on prevention of serious illness, hospitalisation and fatality, and the public health management of other infectious diseases.
National Cabinet agreed in-principle that the plan consists of the four phases, each triggered by the achievement of vaccination thresholds expressed as a percentage of the eligible population, based on the scientific modelling currently being conducted for the COVID-19 Risk Analysis and Response Task Force.
In the current phase, lockdowns will be used only as a last resort, while in Phase B there will be an easing of restrictions on vaccinated residents – such as lockdowns and border controls. In Phase C there will be no lockdowns and vaccinated residents will be exempted from all domestic restrictions.
“What it means is Australia gets vaccinated, Australia is able to live differently,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.
“Winning in the post-vaccination phase looks very different to winning in the phase we’re in now. Winning now means we suppress the virus as best we can, which means that from time to time, such as we’re experiencing in NSW, we have to go through these experiences.”
New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, earlier this week announced a two-week lockdown for greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong that will last until July 9. People cannot leave their homes unless for one of four prescribed reasons, such as food shopping or medical care.
Facilities such as theatres, cinemas and concert halls as well as restaurants are all closed.
New South Wales recorded 31 new community cases of COVID-19 on Friday, with the state’s premier deeming the next few days as “critical”. More than 76,000 tests were conducted in the prior 24-hour period.