Vaccinated Aussies would be allowed to travel to medium-risk countries and not have to quarantine on return under a new plan from a peak business body.
Scott Morrison remains adamant it is “not safe” for Australia to gradually begin reopening its international border before mid-2022.
But the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry warns billions of dollars are being lost in international tourism, education and other export industries as the hard border remains in place.
“We have already got quarantine-free travel with New Zealand, so it’s looking at ways that we can extend that quarantine-free travel,” acting chief executive Jenny Lambert told Today.
“There are other countries which are only at medium risk which really have very low cases of COVID.
“If the traveller is vaccinated – whether they are coming in or whether it’s an Australian – we’re just saying allow that travel to occur and allow them to self-isolate as opposed to be in quarantine.”
This would occur under the second of four stages in a plan put to the federal government that aligns the reopening with phases of the vaccine rollout.
Once phase 2a was substantially complete, the third stage of the chamber’s plan would be unlocked.
This would give the green light for vaccinated Australians to have quarantine-free, two-way travel with low and medium risk countries.
They would also be able to travel to high-risk countries and use other methods of quarantine on return.
However, outbound travel for unvaccinated Australians would only be permitted with a government exemption and hotel quarantine on return.
The final stage of the plan, which aligns with most of the population being vaccinated under phase 2b of the rollout, would enable quarantine-free travel to essentially all countries for people who had the jab.
Non-vaccinated Aussies would then be able to travel to medium and high-risk countries and use other methods of quarantine on return.
However, they would be exempt from very high-risk nations.
“We need to explore the options in this proposal and have these discussions now,” Ms Lambert said.
“Conversation has come to a halt since the budget revealed international travel wouldn’t commence significantly until 2022 – the hallmark of our plan is to reignite that conversation.”
Ms Lambert said Australia’s reopening to the rest of the world should be a phased, risk-managed process.
“You need to have a staged plan in between that allows the community to build trust, allows travellers to build trust,” she said.
“But most importantly allow tourism businesses and travel businesses to plan what is going to be on offer over the coming year.”