Australia’s state and territory leaders need to radically reset their COVID risk appetite

“As the national cabinet considers how to open up to international travel, state and territory leaders will need to accept that a zero risk approach is just not going to work,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“The Prime Minister is right in expressing the common-sense view that we will eventually need to live with the fact that there will be a level of community transmission once our borders more fully open.

“It makes sense that as a transition measure vaccinated returning travellers should be able to quarantine at home. Practically no one will want to travel overseas if they are forced into hotel quarantine on return.

“For Australia to reopen, state and territory leaders need to radically adjust their risk appetite to allow vaccinated travellers to arrive and self-quarantine. The states and territories need to accept that a no tolerance of community transmission approach is not sustainable in either the short or the long-term.

“Once the elderly and vulnerable and front-line workers are all protected, and the community vaccination program is well progressed, there is no reason why we should not start to open up to more normal international travel.

“Industry is reporting increased frustration at the inability to travel internationally to create opportunities for sales, growth and expansion. There is also increasing frustration at the difficulties in getting skilled labour into Australia to fill emerging gaps in our workforce and install, repair and maintain equipment.

“Our recovery needs momentum to be sustained. The recovery also needs to switch from being government-driven to being business-led to ensure that it is viable and self-sustaining.

“Community confidence has been battered for more than a year by snap lock downs and over-reactions and it is time for state and territory leaders to begin talking now in positive terms about reopening and being more realistic about risks. Regaining the community’s lost confidence is a key strategy in any plan to live with COVID-19.

“A plan that would see our borders all but closed internationally until well into 2022 is a plan for failure. We risk losing global business opportunities and much needed investment as the world reopens around us,” Mr Willox said.

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