COVID plan welcome – Big cut to international arrivals one step backwards

“The long-awaited COVID exit plan is a major step forward that finally delivers some hope to the Australian community,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

“The comprehensive pathway out of COVID addresses many of the concerns raised by Ai Group and the business community generally. The Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers are to be commended for reaching this agreement. It is crucial that all National Cabinet members stick to it.

“The National Cabinet jointly accepting that it is time to think about moving on from suppression to living with COVID is a giant leap forward as are plans for ending lockdowns, reducing quarantine periods and allowing home quarantine.

“Home quarantine will help take the pressure off hotel quarantine and should immediately create capacity for more overseas arrivals.

“It is disappointing that the trade-off for this agreement seems to have been the imposition of an unwelcome six-month 50 per cent cap on international arrivals. That restriction must be very temporary and cannot be allowed to stay in place a moment longer than the Government deems necessary. The numbers arriving now amount to a trickle and today’s cut is virtually turning off the tap of critically needed skilled workers. It is not the number of arrivals causing the outbreaks it is the management around quarantine arrangements.

“Very careful consideration needs to be given to setting the threshold of vaccination numbers that will open the way to further easing of restrictions. Setting a fixed percentage of vaccinated Australians carries the risk that the target could be held hostage by vaccine hesitancy and vaccine deniers. The simplest approach is for the “post vaccination phase” to be reached when all who can and want to be vaccinated are vaccinated. Industry restates its willingness to participate in the vaccine roll-out to speed up the program including through workplace-based vaccination hubs,” Mr Willox said.

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