August 2, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the first two vaccination targets to move to phases two and three of the nation’s plan to live with COVID on Friday, with at least 70 percent of the eligible population needing to be vaccinated before we move out of the current phase, in which two Australian capital cities are currently locked down to combat the highly infectious Delta strain of COVID-19.

Following Friday’s National Cabinet meeting, Morrison announced that an average of 70 percent of Australia’s adult population must be vaccinated  before any state can move to “Phase B” of the national plan to reopen Australia. In addition, each state wishing to move to the next phase will be required to have reached the vaccination threshold within their state.

In Phase B of the plan, Australians can expect to have “low level” restrictions in place. The PM said lockdowns in the second phase were “less likely, but they are possible” and are expected to be more targeted. Morrison also flagged that in Phase B, vaccinated residents could expect to have fewer restrictions placed upon them than those who are yet to be vaccinated.

Morrison also announced that the vaccination target for Phase C of the plan would be 80 percent of adult Australian residents, at which point he said a citywide lockdown would not be the norm – “highly targeted lockdowns only”. In the third phase all domestic restrictions will be lifted for vaccinated Australians and there will be no caps on vaccinated Australians returning to Australia. Travel bubbles would be extended to “safe countries” and restrictions on outbound travel from Australia will be lifted.

The bad news for certainty, upon which the events industry is dependent, is the effective suspension of the final phase of the plan, which would see Australia completely reopen to international travel and tourism.

Morrison said the Doherty Institute in Melbourne, who recommended the targets for the phases two and three, had not recommended a target for the final phase as “it is too hard to say what the situation will be down the track”.

“It also will depend on…the booster program, which we have ample vaccines for, but the durability and the proof of those vaccines over time.

“There are too many unknowns before we can understand life as normal,” he said, while saying it was “certainly where we’re heading”.

Image: ABC video feed of Scott Morrison’s press conference on Friday