Roadmap to a COVID safe Australia

8 Jul 2021

The AMA welcomed the leadership shown by National Cabinet in the release of a national roadmap to open up Australia in a safe and sustainable way. 

The AMA has made the point that any plan needs to be based on science and this plan needs to be based on modelling of a delta outbreak in a vaccinated community. 

AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid said, “This plan, with four stages, recognises the important fact that our road out of this crisis is vaccination. Of that there is no doubt.” 

The four stages of the plan announced on 2 July 2021 show a future that includes a reduction in restrictions, a limited use of lockdowns, an increase in travel caps, and potential return of international outbound travel – particularly for those who are vaccinated.  

The plan also recognises that we should give those who had done the right thing by being vaccinated the benefit of greater freedoms, which range from exemptions from local restrictions or reduced quarantine requirements, then in later stages of the plan, to even greater freedoms such as international travel. 

Dr Khorshid said “We’ve seen overseas where high vaccination rates have meant societies can move towards a new normal, despite the delta strain of COVID still circulating.” 

In the short term, this plan addresses the issue of quarantine breaches by reducing the numbers of international arrivals, however, there is still a need to fix quarantine system so that we don’t continue to see leaks and lockdowns while the majority of Australians remain unvaccinated. See the AMA’s communique on COVID-19 and future quarantine arrangements, released in May this year.  

“It is paramount that we fix the holes in hotel quarantine, and we therefore welcome the commitment to review the system,”  

“Australia’s reliance on an overseas health workforce does mean the caps will exacerbate the shortages of doctors and nurses, as well as other critical workers in Australia. The caps will need to be lifted as soon as possible to reduce the impact on vulnerable Australians who need medical care,” Dr Khorshid said. 

The AMA is pleased that the increase in Commonwealth flights to help Australian’s overseas return home and the increased use of Darwin facilities for quarantine. 

The final stage of the plan envisages a vaccinated population and as a result, a health system prepared to treat COVID similar to how we manage the flu.