- NSW will start reopening the state after three months of COVID-19 lockdown.
- Australia is set to start vaccine passport services within weeks.
- Airline stocks continue to be battered.
Australia’s most populous province – New South Wales – is attempting to navigate itself out of the COVID-19 lockdown from Monday, even as the state recorded 1,405 new locally acquired cases of the contagious pandemic in the last 24 hours.
According to the roadmap released on Thursday, the stay-at-home orders for fully vaccinated adults will be lifted from Monday after NSW passes the 70% double vaccination target.
The state’s Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that the state is well on its way towards hitting the 70% double dose mark – a milestone that will set in motion the process to allow the state to open up for those who have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to get vaccinated – if you have not had both doses of the vaccine by the time we hit the 70% milestone, you will not be able to take advantage of these freedoms," Ms Berejiklian added.
It is pertinent to note that only fully vaccinated people and those with medical exemptions will have access to the freedoms allowed under the reopening roadmap.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said that the call for re-opening the economy has been taken in consultation with the industry. NSW contributes almost one-third to the Australian gross domestic product (GDP) – which makes the industry very relevant in policymaking.
As per the plan, pubs, gyms, stadiums and homes will reopen to the fully vaccinated Aussies in NSW on the Monday.
Economic support for businesses will go on, workers would still get an option to work from home and intrastate travel will be allowed.
The state is projected to have 70% of its total population aged above 16 fully vaccinated by mid-October, but independent estimates show that pockets across the state will remain unattended, as it attempts to re-open.
Under the roadmap, regional government areas where there has not been a single COVID-19 infection reported for 14 days may exit lockdown.
On the national level, the country reported 1,723 fresh infections on Thursday – marking its worst day of the pandemic. Meanwhile, a 47% sequential spike of cases in the state of Victoria also sent shockwaves.
On the federal level, the government is aiming at getting vaccine passport services in place in coming days. The Scott Morrison-led government is set to have a system in place within weeks to support the resumption of international travel as vaccination rates rise, Trade Minister Dan Tehan said yesterday.
The federal government’s prolonged ban on international travel has drawn a global condemnation. To resume international travel, the country needs “a system that can enable recognition of vaccination – a vaccination certification scheme,” according to Mr Tehan.
“We’re in the process of planning that so that in the coming weeks we will have a system up and ready so when we hit that 70% or 80% vaccination mark Australians will be able to travel overseas again and also Australians will be able to return home in greater numbers,” Tehan said, while speaking to media, at Australian capital of Canberra.
Earlier in July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison had unveiled a four-phase plan for reopening Australian borders. The plan states that the vaccinated Australians would be able to head overseas again after at least 80% of the over-16 population get fully vaccinated.
Under the third phase of the plan, the cap on vaccinated Australians returning from overseas would be abolished and all restrictions on outbound travel for vaccinated Australians will be lifted.
Airline shares continue to be battered
Despite the announcement by the trade minister, Australia’s leading airline and the flag carrier – Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN), saw its shares crash 2.43% on Thursday. As COVID-19 hit the number of people travelling across regional and national borders, the airline sector – along with tourism and hospitality – has been one of the worst-hit sectors across the globe. Dual-listed Air New Zealand (ASX:AIZ) crashed 2.94% and Alliance Aviation Services (ASX:AQZ) dipped 1.2%. The only Australian airline to trade in the green was Regional Express Holdings Ltd (ASX:REX) – up 2.31%.