Australia will mandate the pre-flight testing of international travellers and flight crew, require masks on all domestic and international flights, but leave the borders open, as part of the fights against a new mutant strain of COVID-19.
News.com.au has confirmed that the National Cabinet has mandated tough new measures amid fears the highly infectious new strain could cause chaos and further lockdowns.
The testing will take place 72 hours before travellers get on the plane. Flight crew will also be tested on more regular basis.
Testing of all hotel quarantine staff in Australia will be conducted on a daily basis.
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But despite Queensland “pushing hard” for a temporary ban on travellers from the UK, the National Cabinet has agreed to a suite of measures more in line with Victoria’s calls to strengthen “end to end” protections in international air travel
Earlier this week, news.com.au reported that passengers on international flights from the UK and other COVID-19 hot spots are set to face mandatory pre-flight COVID tests before they enter hotel quarantine in Australia.
Scott Morrison has previously confirmed the national cabinet will meet on Friday to discuss options to “further strengthen the COVID safety of end to end international travel processes (from arrival at Airport of embarkation in the exit country, to final clearance from hotel quarantine in Australia).”
“This is being done particularly in the context of the UK strain,’’ Mr Morrison said.
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The Prime Minister was asked about the push to adopt mandatory COVID tests for international air travellers from Britain before they board flights on 3AW this week.
But he stressed that the travellers will still need to quarantine on the other side when they land in Australia.
“But we should stress that that doesn’t change the risk. People can be asymptomatic or have not contracted or the virus has manifested itself yet at the time of travelling and that can create a complacency on the other side. Whoever’s coming to Australia must quarantine for 14 days. They must.”
On Thursday, the Victorian Premier called for the daily testing of hotel quarantine workers.
“I want the things we are doing in Melbourne and Victoria done nationally,” Mr Andrews said.
“Because if it’s a problem in any part of the country, it’s a problem in Victoria. And if it’s a problem in Victoria, it’s a problem in every part of the country.
“Every person who gets it [the mutant strain] is giving it to four other people.”
More to come …