Australia’s quarantine system is not yet ready for international travel to resume


Aussies have been promised international travel will resume by Christmas, but one expert has raised a serious concern that could hold us back.

A promise to open up international travel could be at risk of slipping through our fingers as Aussies are warned the current quarantine system is not yet up to scratch.

Last week, Tourism Minister Dan Tehan declared Australia’s international borders would open by Christmas “at the latest”

But Jane Halton, the chair of the coalition for epidemic preparedness, has poured cold water on that plan, saying Australia’s quarantine system was not yet ready for international travel to restart.

“(Quarantine) will be limited, probably, opening in that early point,” she told ABC TV.

“International travel will, for a while, still require some form of quarantine.”

Under the national plan, Australians are set to be able to travel internationally once 80 per cent of adults aged 16 and over have been fully vaccinated.

A national trial of home quarantine is currently underway which would allow travellers to undertake their two weeks of isolation in the comfort of their own home rather than in a hotel.

Australia is currently in negotiations with several countries to establish “travel bubbles” for quarantine free travel, such as the one inked with New Zealand in April.

Ms Halton said confidence in home quarantine as a tool would be critical for giving the resumption of international travel the green light.

“To make it a success, we need to use technology to make sure people are where they say they are and we also need to make sure that we can test to ensure that they haven’t developed Covid,” Ms Halton said.

“So we are going to need a number of things, both technological but also psychological, to make sure this works.”

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on Tuesday told a parliamentary inquiry into Covid-19 he had provided advice to national cabinet on alternative models for quarantine.

But he indicated how alternative models could be run could be left up the states, raising concerns home quarantine may not be nationally consistent.

“There are various quarantine models … being looked at now, formally trialled or piloted in NSW, South Australia and other states,” he said.

“In terms of what happens in quarantine in particular states, that still remains within their purview to take different approaches.

“But in the end there will be an element of state and territory decision-making.”

Originally published as Australians warned quarantine system not up to scratch for international travel to resume

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