States remain split on how to end lockdowns once and for all

Any hope that premiers are on the same page about the path out of Covid have been dashed, and it appears Australia is set to remain divided. States and territories have agreed to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s four-phase reopening plan, which sets out what new freedoms Australians can expect at each milestone of the vaccine rollout, and provides certainty around lockdowns and borders staying open.

Under the plan, restrictions across the country will ease when 70 per cent of Australians aged 16 years and over are vaccinated, and a vaccination figure of 80 per cent will trigger the end of lockdowns and the gradual return of international travel. But with Delta outbreaks still raging in parts of the country, some states are already pushing back on the unified front and threatening to pull in different directions. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, who enforced some of the toughest entry rules in the country, has indicated he was not willing to open the state if it was Covid-free when the PM’s vaccination targets were met.

 “If there’s thousands of cases out there and those cases are seeded into a jurisdiction without Covid, obviously the risk is much higher,” he said. “That’s the problem that jurisdictions that have no Covid face, and I raised that point today. The idea that we just deliberately infect our citizens, if we have no Covid when we get to 70 per cent two-dose vaccination, I just can’t do.

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