Public servants’ time part of NSW decision to abandon home quarantine

By Jackson Graham

Monday October 18, 2021

Stuart Ayres
NSW minister for enterprise, investment and trade Stuart Ayres (File photo; AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

A decision to allow fully vaccinated Australian residents and their families to enter NSW from overseas and forego home quarantine was partly based on not taking public servants away from other duties, the state government says. 

NSW deputy Liberal leader Stuart Ayres said a home quarantine trial using facial recognition and location services had been “effective” but showed the program was “immensely challenging” to scale up for a wider population. 

“The resources at the back end of being able to monitor those people are not commensurate with the fact that our vaccination rates will be at 90% and above from the first of November,” Ayres said. 

“There is absolutely no reason why we should take health staff, or police staff, or other public servants away from their frontline duties for them to monitor people in quarantine, who have exactly the same vaccination status as 90% of people in NSW.” 

Fully vaccinated people arriving in NSW, including on international flights, won’t have to quarantine in hotels or homes from November 1 and arrivals for Australian residents and their families from overseas will be uncapped. 

“If people have exactly the same vaccination status as those people that are walking around NSW, going to work, sitting in cafes, standing at a pub with a drink in their hand — why would we ask people to quarantine at home or in a hotel?” Ayres said.

He said removing quarantine for vaccinated people was consistent with phase C and D of the national roadmap.  

NSW premier Dominic Perrottet declared at a press conference on Friday that “hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past”. 

He said vaccinated international travellers would have to do a PCR test before boarding a flight. 

“It’s going to be a boom for people coming home, it’s going to be a boom for our tourism industry as we come out of this pandemic,” Perrottet said. 

Overseas arrivals who have not been fully vaccinated will be capped at 210 a week and will undergo 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he supported NSW’s decision to allow vaccinated arrivals to forego quarantine once arriving in the state. 

“In the first instance it will be for Australian residents and their families, we will see how that goes, and then we will move to other priorities which I have already set out as being skilled migration as well as students to Australia. And then we will move on to the challenge of international visitors to Australia,” Morrison said. 

Asked whether other jurisdictions should abandon home quarantine, Morrison said it was up to other governments to decide. 

We will continue to support those [home quarantine] trials — I think it’s good to have a range of options that are being pursued by the states and territories.”

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