COVID-19: International arrivals no longer need to be vaccinated
From next Wednesday, July 6, Mark Butler, Health Minister will alter the Biosecurity Act, so that those entering Australia will no longer need to declare their COVID-19 vaccination status.
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Digital Passenger Declaration to go too
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil will also end the requirement for arrivals – whether Australian Citizens or not – to complete the dreaded Digital Passenger Declaration. O’Neil has apparently listened to feedback on how awful the App is, and agrees that it needs a lot more work before it is worthy of replacing the paper-based incoming passenger card.
Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-vatiants
This comes at a time when rates of infection of these new strains of Omicron are rising by 30% in Europe. With Australia still in the top 5 countries in terms of rates of infection, this relaxation of rules seems questionable.
Minister Butler is encouraging Australians to get their booster shots but has not received any advice to return to mandatory mask wearing to decrease infection rates. This seems ludicrous when Australia has 300 COVID-19 deaths per week, and on any given day, 3,000 COVID-19 patients are in hospitals.
I’m currently in Wellington New Zealand, where all restaurant staff and most retail staff still wear masks, and most if not all customers wear masks in shops, social venues (when not eating or drinking) and even out on the street.
I find it comforting that health and safety are uppermost in the minds of New Zealanders, not because they have to – mask wearing in most cases is not mandatory – but because they want to protect the health of themselves and others.