Tourism needs Premiers’ vaccine buy-in

In Attractions, Australian Domestic Tourism, Community, Featured Home Page News, Government, Harmonisation, Momentum, Queensland, Tourism Routes, Western Australia

Vaccination targets are the preferred working model for the tourism industry, with ‘Covid Zero’ off the table as of August 2021.

Key here though is getting state premiers – especially Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan – to agree to open up without threat of widespread border closures once a population vaccination level of 80% is reached.

The tourism industry acknowledges that a) there will still be outbreaks and b) even with an 80% vaccination rate there will still be a need for localised lockdowns on some pre-modelled scale – e.g. by geographic area and population density.

With ‘Covid Zero’ off the table though, we now have parameters to work with. We as an industry have been to the dark side – complete lockdown of the majority of the country, and social distancing cutting social activity (our bread and butter) off at the legs. Now we can see how to get back to healthy intra- and interstate tourism, and eventually international – by acknowledging that vaccine population targets are a workable goal.

Premiers need to buy-in though, since they still control state borders and activity. Queensland and Western Australia premiers were richly rewarded for their tough stand – when the goal was zero.

Intrastate tourism has made up a surprisingly healthy volume of revenues for operators in 2021, but even that is threatened by the ongoing threat of lockdown.

If we can get Palaszczuk and McGowan on board with tourism’s need for open borders and regions, 2022 could be the biggest year Australian tourism has ever seen.

Veronica Hope, 24 Aug 2021

Zero COVID ‘just not possible’, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says

From abc’s 7.30, 23rd Aug 2021. By Leigh Sales and Myles Wearring

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has reiterated her view that the Delta variant has made a zero-COVID  target “completely unrealistic”, and all states and territories must learn to live with it when borders eventually reopen.

But she refused to put a figure on how many cases and deaths were expected when NSW opened up.

In an interview with 7.30, Ms Berejiklian said she disagreed with other premiers such as Mark McGowan and Daniel Andrews who said a zero-COVID target was still viable.

“It’s completely unrealistic. I don’t know any state or nation on the planet who abides by those rules,” she said.

“It’s just not possible. We can’t pretend we’re extra special or very different from other places.

“There are opportunities for us to do everything we can to suppress the cases, to reduce the number of people we end up having in hospital, but also accept that every state’s going to have to go through a transition.

“That’s just how the virus works. No amount of government intervention or lockdown is going to get you to zero cases.”

This morning Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned state and territory leaders to be prepared for case numbers to rise once 70 to 80 per cent of the population was vaccinated and the country opened up.

“We must adjust our mindset. Cases will not be the issue … dealing with serious illness, hospitalisation, ICU capabilities, our ability to respond in those circumstances, that will be our goal,” he said.

‘Our job is to prevent death and keep people safe’

A person walks down a street wearing a face mask, a plastic face shield and a cap. Their hands are in their jacket pockets
Ms Berejiklian says NSW authorities are deciding which restrictions will be lifted first.AAP: Dan Himbrecht

Ms Berejiklian told 7.30 “no death is acceptable, no death is easy”, but would not say how many deaths were expected when NSW reduced restrictions once it reached 70 to 80 per cent of the population vaccinated.

“I don’t want to ever, ever give a number that’s acceptable, never,” she said.

“And our job is to prevent death and keep people safe.

“But what we do have to accept is when you are in the middle of a pandemic which is impacting our nation as it has been other nations that we need to appreciate that, unfortunately, lives will be lost.

“I’d love to be able to give you a definite ballpark. But that will depend on where the cases are up to, it will depend on which proportion of which demographics are vaccinated.

“That’s why our job is to reduce the case numbers as much as possible or to hold them at bay until we get to that [vaccination] level.

“What we’re attempting to do is make sure that those most vulnerable are vaccinated, those obviously who are more susceptible to COVID are vaccinated, so it reduces the likelihood of people getting into hospital and dying.”

More freedom by end of October

Empty shopping centre
The NSW Premier says the state is likely to have 80 per cent of its population fully vaccinated in November.(AAP: Dan Himbrecht

The Premier said she had promised the citizens of NSW that if the target of 6 million jabs was reached by the end of August there would be “at least one extra thing our citizens can do next month in September”.

She said health experts were working on what that one thing would be.

“Obviously, public health and safety come first, and mental wellbeing, so we will have that advice to the community as soon as we can.

“In relation to when we can live life more freely, well, if you follow the Doherty plan it says 70 per cent double-dose vaccination. NSW looks to be hitting that target by the end of October.”

She said NSW was expected to have 80 per cent of the population fully inoculated by November.

Watch the interview on 7.30 on ABC TV and iview.

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