Scott Morrison has confirmed that the nation’s borders will be open by Christmas with the exception of Western Australia after today’s national cabinet meeting with state premiers.
As Queensland confirmed it is moving towards reopening the border to Victoria today and South Australia confirmed a December 1 reopening, the Prime Minister said it was welcome news for families desperate to spend time with family at Christmas.
“That is a plan to have Australian open … with the exception of Western Australia,’’ Mr Morrison said.
“The plan importantly embeds public health metrics in ensuring that when Australia opens safely that it remains open safely, and that is incredibly important.”
Mr Morrison said the work of the National Contact Tracing Review, which identifies additional metrics that are needed to stay on track, would help deliver further protections to keep Australia open.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed on Friday that her state was on track to relax travel bans on more states.
“Of course, there is a national aspiration, of course, to have the borders open before Christmas,’’ she said.
“In relation to Victoria, we’re very encouraged with what’s happening down there. And we will be looking very closely at the end of the month at Victoria, and also New South Wales. There may be some hot spots. Dr Young will assess this at the end of the month. But we are very encouraged with what we are seeing in Victoria at this stage.”
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Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queensland is on track for Christmas reopening. Picture: Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.Source:News Regional Media
In South Australia, Premier Steven Marshall said the border closures to Victoria would end next month.
“This has been a border which has been in place for an extended period of time. It’s been a very important border to keep out of state safe, but this border will be removed as of midnight on 1 December,’’ he said.
“And this will be a huge relief to people as we head into December. We’ve always said that we don’t want to keep the restrictions in place for one day longer than we need to, but we have had to have this border arrangement in place, and it has been our first line of defence and kept South Australia safe and strong.
“We’re also very pleased that, as of midnight tonight, the Western Australian border will be relaxed with South Australia. Now, we opened up to Western Australia a very long time ago.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t reciprocated. But as of midnight tonight, that will be reciprocated, so there will be free movement between Western Australia and South Australia.
“And I know that is going to be just a huge relief to many people who have found it very difficult to navigate the 14-day isolation going to Western Australia from South Australia.”
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison says borders will be open by Christmas, with the exception of WA. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary RamageSource:News Corp Australia
Queensland also announced a further easing of restrictions on Friday confirming that from 4pm, November 17, indoor premises will be allowed to have one patron for every 2 sqm.
As a result, up to 200 people will now be allowed to attend weddings and funerals in the state.
“So, that’s gonna mean good news for jobs, especially in those areas such as our restaurants, our cafes, our museums and our art galleries. So, this is all wonderful news,’’ Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Now, weddings. Here’s some more good news: Up to 200 people can attend a wedding. All guests can dance.”
Queensland has also agreed to offer up an extra 150 places in hotel quarantine to allow international arrivals.
“This is people who are coming from areas around the world who want to come back home for Christmas,’’ she said.
But the Prime Minister and chief medical officer Paul Kelly said hotel quarantine was here to stay for international arrivals.
“There are some pilots in relation to on-farm quarantine, for example, for the seasonal workers that have come from very low-risk countries, in Queensland. For example, that’s one that’s ongoing at the moment. So, there are some bespoke arrangements currently operating in the states,” Professor Kelly said.
“They’ve made those decisions to try those pilots. But I think your question really goes to, ‘Is there large-scale alternatives to hotel quarantine?’ And the answer is ‘no’. I think the reason has been outlined already about how dangerous the rest of the world is, and how important our border arrangements are.”
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