Home quarantine trial begins in New South Wales for fully vaccinated international arrivals

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The NSW government is expected to announce the start of a home quarantine trial for international arrivals. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Bianca De Marchi

People arriving in NSW from overseas will soon be able to self-quarantine at home rather than in a hotel, Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian revealed on Friday.

More than 100 fully vaccinated people will participate in a test of the new system, which will only require people to be isolated for seven days.

If successful, the system will become the new standard and replace the two-week hotel quarantine requirement.

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“We want to be able to open in Sydney and New South Wales as quickly as possible, so this is a really crucial step,” said NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres.

Qantas staff will participate in the trial, which will begin in a few weeks.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she hoped fully vaccinated people could take advantage of the home quarantine system once this group made up 80% of the state's population.  Photo: NCA NewsWire / Jenny Evans
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she hoped fully vaccinated people could take advantage of the home quarantine system once this group made up 80% of the state’s population. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Jenny Evans

The government hopes to roll out the home quarantine system to the general public once the state manages to fully immunize 80% of the population.

The 50% mark was to be reached on Friday.

“One of the things we obviously expect to happen at 80% double dose is to consider our international borders,” Ms. Berejiklian told reporters.

“It is the Australians who return home via Sydney Airport, but also our citizens who have the opportunity to go abroad where they previously could not.”

Friday’s announcement comes amid 1,284 new cases of Covid-19 in New South Wales, with the death toll from the latest outbreak now standing at 222.

Qantas staff will be involved in the lawsuit.  Photo: NCA NewsWire / Joel Carrett
Qantas staff will be involved in the lawsuit. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Joel Carrett

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hailed the announcement as the “next step” for Australia’s reopening.

“NSW has carried the lion’s share of the quarantine of returning Australians and will lead the way with this trial that could set the standard for the next phases of how we live with COVID-19,” Mr. Morrison said in a press release.

“It could mean that more families and friends can get together faster, more business can be done here, and more workers for key industries can take on critical jobs.”

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the home quarantine would be “an important stepping stone to restart international passenger services.”

“As vaccination rates increase here and abroad, we would like to see quarantine requirements relaxed further,” he said.

He also said airline crews who have spent months in quarantine since the start of the pandemic would be happy to be able to self-isolate at home in the future.

“They are all fully vaccinated and it will make a real difference in their lives to be able to self-quarantine in their own homes and cut the length of their isolation in half,” Joyce said.

Mr Ayres said the trial would involve 175 people and take four weeks.

He said police would be able to monitor people in home quarantine using a smartphone app that records the user’s location and can identify them using facial recognition.

NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the state government wants to open NSW to international travelers as soon as possible.  Photo: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gérard
NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said the state government wants to open NSW to international travelers as soon as possible. Photo: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gérard

Police will also conduct random in-person checks.

People who test positive for the coronavirus during their quarantine period will have to isolate themselves longer.

Home quarantine should not result in the high cost to the traveler associated with hotel quarantine.

“I don’t think we’ll charge people to stay home,” Ayres said.

Participants must have been fully vaccinated with a coronavirus vaccine approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

These include AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Moderna.

The trial will be conducted in collaboration with the Commonwealth and the results will inform future quarantine programs, the prime minister’s office said in a statement to reporters.

The statement also said that Kerry Chant, NSW’s chief public health officer, and her Commonwealth counterpart, Paul Kelly, both supported reducing the length of solitary confinement.

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