June 29, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Yesterday, two separate press conferences featuring federal officials – Lieutenant John Frewen, who is leading the Department of Defence’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison – talked about what the events industry desperately needs to operate effectively: certainty.

Earlier in the day, in response to a question about whether we would have to continue to live with COVID-19 restrictions including masks and denisity limits, Frewen made it clear that we’re in it for the long haul with COVID.

“We will be living with COVID for many years, not just many months and weeks,” he said. And I think all of these measures we can expect to see activated and then deactivated as we become more comfortable with the outbreak.

“And I think we will have to get more comfortable with the idea that there will be ongoing outbreaks in the COVID space. But with all of those mitigation measures, we can hopefully keep people alive, keep people from getting seriously ill. And then as quickly as we can, transition back to as normal life as best we can. And vaccination underpins all of that,” said Frewen.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also asked about the possibility of ongoing restrictions yesterday evening. He said the Government was preparing a plan for moving forward, but that there were many uncertainties. He pointed to the situation unfolding in the UK, where cases are surging again due to the Delta variant – new cases are up 70 percent in the last seven days, with the latest daily number at 22,868 – despite over 84 percent of the population having received their first vaccine dose and over 60 percent being fully vaccinated.

“There are many uncertainties…and those uncertainties aren’t dispensed with simply by making announcements. What you need to do is continue to gather the information that enables you to build that path back. Now, that path back has many steps.

“Once we get into next year, I think we’re in a position where we’ll be able to be considering changes to how potentially quarantine arrangements work, with much higher levels of vaccination, and the arrangements that are available for people who have been vaccinated, because they present a lower risk to the public health of the community,” he said.

“It was never going to be the case where Australia was closed one day and opened the next. That’s a completely naive position.

“This is a matter, this is a process that will evolve in stages, and the Government has been doing an enormous amount of work.

“But right now, the task is to ensure that we continue with the urgency of the vaccination rollout, and that provides the opportunities for different arrangements next year. And, that’s what we look forward to achieving.

“But, I can’t stress enough that the major frustration here is the virus.

“We have a lockdown because we have a new Delta variant which is proving to be highly contagious in a way that previous variants were not.

“The question will be, well, what will be the next variant, and what will that mean for future plans?

“I would like to tell you there’s a higher degree of certainty that exists, but I wouldn’t be levelling with the Australian people.

“So, we will continue to gather the evidence and continue to prepare our plans for how we can have Australia living with this virus in the future in a way that minimises the restrictions upon them.”