PM firms on overseas travel restart target

Matt CoughlanAAP
Travel for the fully vaccinated is "certainly what we intend to facilitate", Scott Morrison says.
Camera IconTravel for the fully vaccinated is "certainly what we intend to facilitate", Scott Morrison says. Credit: EPA

Australia has firmed up its commitment to restart international travel once 80 per cent of people aged 16 and above receive two coronavirus jabs.

Despite some state premiers maintaining a hard line on internal borders, the federal government is increasingly adamant overseas travel restrictions will ease when the target is hit.

Projections suggest national 80 per cent double-dose coverage could be achieved before the end of the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed he would forge ahead with relaxing tough border measures in line with the national reopening plan.

"That's certainly what we intend to facilitate - for vaccinated people to travel," he told reporters in Washington DC on Thursday.

Mr Morrison said he was looking forward to welcoming back students and skilled migrants when borders eased.

"Those vaccination numbers will continue to rise," he said.

"As they rise, the opportunities to get back to life as normal as it can be, and living with the virus, will just be coming closer each and every day."

Australia is expected to pass 50 per cent full vaccination coverage for over-16s and 75 per cent first-dose protection this week.

Tourism and Trade Minister Dan Tehan believes Christmas will be the latest point for Australia's international border to reopen.

The plan would start with allowing people to leave the country more freely before establishing more travel bubbles like the paused New Zealand arrangement.

Australia is in discussions with Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the United States, United Kingdom and Pacific nations.

NSW is trialling seven days home quarantine for 175 fully vaccinated overseas arrivals using location and facial-recognition technology also employed during a South Australian pilot.

Mr Tehan is hopeful the halved isolation period with testing either side can be a future model around the nation.

"Hopefully we'll be able to have home quarantine, we'll be able to limit the time of quarantine and ultimately, quarantine-free travel," he told the Nine Network.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said people including children had been separated from parents and family during the pandemic.

"It's about people connecting with their families, their friends, their loved ones," he told reporters.

"It's about our most basic humanity. That's what we want to be able to return to."

Qantas and Virgin are preparing for more overseas flights to restart in December with vaccination expected to be a condition for travellers.

More than 45,000 Australians are stranded overseas with the figure rising in recent months due to reduced passenger arrival caps.

Labor continues to blame the government's failure to establish multiple quarantine hubs for the backlog.

Opposition health spokesman Mark Butler said Mr Morrison promised to get people home before last Christmas.

"The Australian government should be moving heaven and earth to do everything it can to get those Australians back home," he told reporters in Adelaide.

Victoria recorded 766 new local cases on Thursday, the state's highest tally of the pandemic.

NSW detected 1063 cases and six deaths with the state's Delta outbreak surpassing 50,000 infections.

There were 16 new cases in Canberra.

Get the latest news from in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails