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‘An important development’: South Australia to hold first trial of home quarantine

South Australia has volunteered to host a 14-day trial of home quarantine for fully vaccinated returning travelers – new arrangements that could alleviate pressure on the hotel quarantine system.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said leaders at the national cabinet are hopeful the trial will be successful. 

“I think this is an important development,” he told reporters on Friday afternoon, following the meeting.  “You have a great opportunity for Australians who are vaccinated to be able to leave Australia and come back and put no pressure on the hotel quarantine system, and that can see some of these restrictions ease with shallow risk.” Mr. Morrison said the national cabinet received advice that the program should focus first on vaccinated Australians for inclusion in the trial. The pilot program will also prioritize travel to and from low-risk COVID-19 countries.

“That will be a transparent project with all the other states and territories,” he said.

“It will be run, of course, by South Australia but with the active engagement and visibility of all the other states and territories. So they are in a position to pick up that project on the completion of a successful pilot program.”

A firm date for the trial has yet to be finalized.

Speaking after last week’s national cabinet meeting, Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said evidence shows seven days of home quarantine for a fully vaccinated person could deliver “very similar” risk outcomes to 14 days in hotel quarantine.

Vaccination status rules for travelers

Speaking about travel in and out of Australia, Mr. Morrison said the federal government has facilitated 29 scheduled commercial flights to land in Darwin.

“That should see us taking in around 4,000 people per month into Howard Springs and fully utilizing the quarantine capacity at the national resilience facility at Howard Springs,” he said.

From next Friday, all arrivals into Australia will have to officially declare their vaccination status. Mr. Morrison said the move would provide information to states about how to manage future quarantine arrangements. He said the federal government would have a “strong preference” for vaccinated Australians when thinking about travel exemptions for outbound travel from Australia.

“For those who are unable for medical reasons to receive a vaccination or at this point in the cycle they may not have access to a vaccination, those are issues that will be taken into account by the Border Force Commissioner in considering those arrangements,” he said.

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