Australia’s borders remain closed to international travel, but government officials are preparing for the day when that is no longer the case. And when it happens, vaccine passports will be part of the process.
Government officials announced this week that trials will be launched for vaccine passports for diplomatic travel to a handful of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
“When the international border opens, we want to make sure we’re ready for people to be able to travel again,” Dan Tehan, minister for trade and tourism, said. “It’s incredibly important that we’re doing that preparatory work.”
The passports will use QR codes that are linked to the vaccination records and passport information of any inbound or outbound passengers.
Australia will recognize full doses of Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca vaccines, but not any developed in Russia, China, or other markets.
Australia has allowed only essential travel in and out of the country for the past 18 months, leaving tourism out of the equation. Government officials have said that will remain the case until 80 percent of the population is vaccinated.
“The sheer fact of it is, if you’re not vaccinated, you represent a greater public health risk to yourself, to your family, to your community, and others about you, so it’s only sensible that people will do sensible things to protect their public health,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said recently, according to The Australian.
When Australia will reach that 80 percent threshold is unknown, but Qantas airlines CEO Alan Joyce said earlier this month that he expects his planes to be flying by December. Joyce made the prediction while announcing vaccinations would be mandatory to work for Qantas.
According to the Department of Health, nearly 68 percent of Australians age 16 or older have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
Australia has been a shining success in the global fight against coronavirus, due in part to its closed borders and other restrictions in the country. There have been about 77,000 cases since the outbreak began and just 1,102 deaths. Those are numbers the United States is experiencing on a daily basis.
Of the world’s largest 20 economies, Australia was the last to reach 1,000 deaths, according to Reuters.
“We got to buy time to allow vaccinations to be undertaken all the while doing this very hard work, this very painful and difficult work, to keep a lid as much as we can on cases,” said Daniel Andrews, premier of Victoria.
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