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Vaccine victories inspire world as Qantas warns on borders

March 11, 2021 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

Qantas chief Alan Joyce warned yesterday that tourists and students could ditch Australia for alternative destinations if the country’s borders remained closed in the long term. He spoke as reports roll in of vaccinated people partying in other parts of the world, while Australia lumbers to roll out the Covid vaccines.

Addressing the Australian Financial Review’s business summit, Joyce said that if travel restrictions remained a key part of Australia’s response to the coronavirus, the country stood to lose.

“The travellers will go elsewhere. The students will go elsewhere,” he said.

It’s evident that few people will come to Australia as long as they have to do two weeks mandatory quarantine at their own expense on arrival. Australians are not even allowed to leave the country without special exemption.

Joyce backs a world health passport system, saying countries will require proof of vaccination to allow people in. He pointed out the world already does exactly that with yellow fever – it’s nothing new. Qantas has already said that it will require passengers to have been vaccinated against Covid-19 when the airline resumes international services in October.

Fears have been raised that if current border restrictions continue, Australia and New Zealand could end up being among the last countries to reopen to international travel. See Will Australia and NZ be the world’s last to open up travel?

There is also concern that Australia’s slow rollout of vaccination, touted as a luxury the country can afford, has given anti-vaxxer mavericks and conspiracy theorists more time to sow doubts via social media.

Australia and New Zealand have got off very lightly in deaths from Covid-19, leading to a pervasive lack of urgency – even complacency. Some people think: “Why get the jab? I don’t feel threatened by the virus; I don’t know anyone who has caught Covid-19, and I don’t plan to travel overseas.”. That’s a worry for any mass vaccination program.

MEANWHILE:

In Israel (which proudly proclaims itself the world’s most vaccinated country against Covid), a new “green card” system lets citizens who are fully vaccinated into pubs, clubs, cinemas, sporting events and concerts. Venues can demand vaccination proof before admission. Israel has now almost fully reopened, on the back of its world-beating Covid vaccination campaign. Central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street was reported on Sunday evening to be “a big party” complete with crowds of revellers and balloons.

In China: Authorities have issued a Covid vaccine passport showing a bearer’s vaccination status and recent coronavirus test results. The passports are available for Chinese citizens to download on social media platform WeChat. The QR-code digital certificate is being hailed as the world’s first virus passport, with similar schemes planned in Britain, the US and the EU.

China Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian was quoted as saying: “The pandemic is still with us, but the world economy needs to be restarted and people-to-people exchanges resumed with no more delays.”

In the US, Covid-19 vaccinations are changing older Americans’ daily lives, a year after the pandemic drove many in the high-risk group into forced isolation. Reuters reports that vaccinated seniors are again visiting family members, eating at favourite restaurants and shopping without fear of contagion, hospitalisation and death.

In Australia and New Zealand, governments know their achievements in keeping the coronavirus at bay – through a combination of border closures, mandatory quarantine and contact tracing – are second to none, recognised as such around the world.

The trick for them now will be to open up travel again and save their economies, without risking people’s health. So far, Australia and New Zealand have not even been able to fully open up travel to each other.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. gnits says:

    ….fools rush in…

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