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Vaccine passports ‘could open up Australia by 2022’

Australia may open up to overseas tourists again by 2022 – but possibly only to those who have been vaccinated, reports quoting the country’s prime minister suggest.

The country has been pursuing a “zero-Covid” policy during the pandemic and its borders are closed except to Australian citizens, permanent residents and some exemptions.

Any arrivals must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated facility, similar to the hotel quarantine policy recently introduced in the UK.

The Independent reported that Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said: “It is a reasonable expectation that, as time goes on, as the vaccination rolls out across the world and here in Australia, you should rightly expect that things will change and how we manage the virus.”

Speaking at a vaccine hub in Sydney, Morrison indicated that airlines will be closely involved with any ‘vaccine passport’ plans.

Australia’s vaccination programme will begin in the state of New South Wales on Monday.

The newspaper also reported comments from Phillipa Harrison, the managing director of Tourism Australia, who said: “There’s still going to be a lot of friction to travel, so it’s not like on January 1, 2022, the borders are going to fling open and we’re going to go back to where we are.

“We will find that some cohorts or groups, like working holidaymakers or visiting friends and relatives groups, will take a bit of that friction.

“But for the leisure two-week holiday to come back it’s going to be a little bit of a while.”

The Independent also reported comments by Jo Boundy, chief marketing officer for Qantas, who said: “What our customers are telling us – nine in 10 people are saying that they expect on an international flight everyone to be vaccinated and they themselves wouldn’t go unless they and everyone else on the flight was vaccinated.”

Last week, professor Michael Kidd, acting chief medical officer at the Australian government’s Department of Health, said: “Travel has been severely curtailed in Australia. Obviously, the vaccines are going to make a difference, but vaccine programmes are only just starting to roll out overseas.

“The roll-out to cover the entire adult population in Australia is expected to run until October.”

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