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States are almost ready for travel resumption
MELBURNIANS are enjoying their first non-lockdown weekend, as the country’s airlines prepare for a return to international travel.
The Victorian capital came out of its sixth – and final – lockdown on Friday after the state met vaccination targets, with residents now able to leave their homes for any reason.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said the multiple closures, which helped Melbourne have the longest shutdown of any city in the world, were a thing of the past.
Meanwhile, Qantas unveiled its planned flight schedule, once international borders reopened on November 1.
Those to New York and London will begin that day, while flights to destinations such as Singapore, Fiji and Johannesburg have been moved forward.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed the return of more Qantas routes, but said government support for the airline industry would cease if flights returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Victoria’s decision to remove quarantine requirements for vaccinated travelers will also see the national carrier advancing flights from Melbourne to London and Singapore in November.
Canberra is in talks with Singapore to establish unrestricted round-trip travel.
This is because Prime Minister Peter Gutwein announced plans for Tasmania to reopen its borders.
Travelers will be able to enter the island state from December 15, which is expected to be when it reaches a 90% vaccination rate.
NSW recorded 332 new cases on Saturday, as the state reported cases of virus transmission in bars and gyms.
Some 24 infections have been diagnosed in ACT as retailers traded throughout their first weekend since August 12, albeit under distancing precautions.
Restrictions were eased in the capital on Friday, a week ahead of schedule, while free travel will be back on the cards between Victoria and ACT from November 1, in line with agreements between Victoria and NSW.
The latest national vaccine statistics show that the double-dose vaccination rate has reached 71.7% for people 16 years of age and older.
ACT continues to lead the way for the most vaccinated jurisdiction, with 86% of residents having received two doses, while NSW is not far behind with 83.7%.
The two states most behind in vaccine deployment are Western Australia and Queensland.
The Sunshine State was 59.4% of its over-16s fully immunized on Saturday morning, while WA surpassed the 60% mark around lunchtime.
WA Minister of Health Roger Cook said the state would also exceed 60% for all people over 12 in a matter of days.
“Enough about latecomers, we are doing a great job in Western Australia and now we need to keep doing more,” he said.
When asked if the state border would be open by December 25, Mr Cook said WA did not want a situation where it reopened too early and found itself forced to close over Christmas.
“We don’t want to spoil Christmas, we don’t want to make dangerous decisions,” he said.
“We want to ensure the safety of Western Australians.” âAAP