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(Reuters) – Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a four-stage plan to greater freedom from coronavirus restrictions, saying Australia will have to vaccinate 80% of its adults against COVID-19 before it can consider reopening its borders.

Australia has handled the coronavirus pandemic much better than many other developed countries with just over 34,000 cases and 924 deaths, through sealing its borders, snap lockdowns and high community compliance with public health measures.

But the country’s vaccination drive has been sluggish, with only 18% of adults fully vaccinated so far.

Morrison did not give a timetable for the plan but expressed confidence that phase B – having 70% of the population fully vaccinated – could be reached by the end of the year. [nL1N2P60L2}

Here are some of the details of the plan:

PHASE 1 (CURRENT)

* International borders closed

* Early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur

* Minimise cases through testing, tracing and isolation

* Reduced cap on permitted international arrivals

* Government to support more commercial repatriation flights

* National plan to offer vaccinations to more Australians

* Expand commercial trials for limited entry of student and economic visa holders

PHASE B (70% FULLY VACCINATED):

* Maintain high vaccination rate through incentives

* Lockdowns less likely but possible

* Increase some international arrivals caps

* Ease some restrictions on vaccinated residents

* Allow capped entry of student economic visa holders subject to quarantine arrangements, availability

* Prepare/implement vaccine booster programme

PHASE C (80% FULLY VACCINATED):

* Abolish caps on returning vaccinated Australians

* Lift all restrictions on outbound travel for vaccinated Australians

* Allow increased capped entry of student, economic, and humanitarian visa holders

* Extend travel bubble for unrestricted travel, (Singapore, Pacific, in addition to bubble with New Zealand)

* Gradual reopening of international travel with safe countries

* Highly targetted lockdowns only

* Vaccinated residents exempted from all restrictions

PHASE D (POST-VACCINATION PHASE)

* Open international borders

* Quarantine for high-risk inbound travel

* Allow uncapped inbound arrivals for vaccinated persons, without quarantine

* Allow uncapped arrivals of non-vaccinated travellers subject to pre-flight and on-arrival testing

* Live with COVID-19, management consistent with influenza

* Boosters as necessary

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; editing by Richard Pullin)



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