New South Wales will introduce a home quarantine “pilot” for international arrivals, as the state works to open international borders.
The pilot, to be run as a partnership between the NSW government and the Commonwealth, will test a seven-day home quarantine program for some 175 fully vaccinated people.
New South Wales’ Minister for Labor, Tourism, Investment and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the state’s high vaccination rates have meant the government could announce the “next step” in the reopening strategy.
“We are going to, at the end of this month, run a test that will change the way we do quarantine. It gives us the opportunity to test the seven-day home quarantine. “
“This will be based on evidence collected through the South Australian trial as part of the national plan, where we use technology, particularly facial recognition and location-based service applications on your phone, to enable police and law enforcement to health continue to monitor a person during their home quarantine. “
“It’s about ensuring that we run the test correctly [and] build the evidence base so that we can remove our hotel quarantine system for the majority of people entering Australia. “
Test participants will be divided into two groups and will include Qantas aircrew and personnel. Ayres told reporters that participants will be chosen by the NSW Police and NSW Healthcare based on a “risk assessment framework.”
“We want to be able to test in different cohorts. Families, singles, old people, young people, people in different forms of work “.
“This is a test and it is about testing different types of accommodation, apartments and houses. We want to make sure we get the correct spread. It is not about giving priority to people or people who have been abroad. “
Ayres confirmed that only double-vaccinated arrivals will be able to take advantage of the program when it launches, and that the test will only be performed with fully vaccinated arrivals.
“We can’t stay closed forever,” he said, “We have to be able to know what happens when we put people in home quarantine. Australia must reopen. We must get rid of the blockages, we must re-engage with the world. “
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the announcement and said the trial is the next step in the plan to “reopen safely and remain open safely.”
“NSW has carried most of the quarantine of returning Australians and will lead the way with this test that could set the standard for the next phases of how we live with Covid-19.”
“This could mean more families and friends can get together more quickly, more business can be done here, and more workers for key industries can fill critical positions.”
It comes as New South Wales recorded 1,284 new locally acquired cases and another 12 deaths, equating to the deadliest day of the outbreak so far.
Two of the deaths were in people in their 20s, one from West Sydney who received a single dose of the vaccine, and Deputy Health Director Marianne Gale said she had an underlying health problem.
The other was an unvaccinated resident of the Life Without Barriers group home in Wyong, where she acquired the infection.
Three of the deaths were of residents of senior care centers in Dubbo. Seven of the deaths were in unvaccinated people, two received a single dose, and three were fully vaccinated.
Berejiklian also announced that the state has crossed the 50% double-dose vaccination rate in people 16 years of age and older.
“We are getting closer and closer to the 70% double dose vaccination rate, which is very nice to get to that milestone and gives us heart.”
“It’s always difficult when you can see the light at the end of the tunnel to stay on course and we really urge everyone to play by the rules.”
Berejiklian could not be called upon if other restrictions were lifted, especially in the 12 areas of concern for the local government.
“As you know, modeling told us that we would peak sometime in mid-September. We are around mid-September, a little more than mid-September, we don’t know if the worst is over in terms of cases. “
“So it’s better for us to make sure we stay the course for a little while longer until we know for sure and then obviously health can reevaluate all those settings.”