Desperate to head to a tropical island or see family and friends overseas? It’s a question that is regularly asked — when can we travel and how do we get home?
- A South Australian home quarantine trial will begin in September for around 100 people
- If successful the trial could be taken up by other states
- Medical experts will consider whether to shorten the quarantine period of vaccinated people
On Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a home quarantine trial for fully vaccinated travellers in South Australia that he said could pave the way for Australians to be allowed to leave the country and return.
It could also eventually see some Australians who are stranded overseas and want to come home avoid hotels and quarantine in their own place.
This is what we know about the trial and what it could mean for future travel.
Quarantining at home — how does that work?
On Friday, National Cabinet agreed to set up a home quarantine trial that would help to take the pressure off the hotel system and allow more people back into the country in the future.
South Australia has put up its hand up to run the trial, which is likely to take place in September, and about 100 people are expected to be involved.
It will only be available for those who have been fully vaccinated in Australia — with Pfizer or AstraZeneca — before they travel overseas.
And they can only take part if they have been in a low-risk “green” country.
Green countries are those that have a low number of people who have contracted COVID-19, and where authorities are able to track and detect cases.
People chosen for the program will spend two weeks in their own home and will be monitored with GPS tracking via a smartphone app.
But before you put your hand up, the SA Government has already indicated local Paralympians and Defence Force members will be part of the pilot program.
Paralympics Australia said it was working to find the best method of quarantine for more than 70 athletes who would return from the Tokyo Olympics.
“We are committed to working with the authorities to support this trial in South Australia and we will continue to work through the detailed planning process as it continues to eventuate,” the organisation said in a statement.
If the trial works, what happens next?
If the pilot program is given the tick of approval by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the medical advisory body in charge of public health emergencies, it’s then up to other states and territories to take up the program if they wish.
The Federal Government is responsible for setting up national quarantine facilities, which some states and the federal opposition have been calling for, but the Commonwealth cannot control home quarantine programs.
And while the trial program will require people to stay in their home for two weeks, later programs could be shortened to seven days, subject to medical advice.
One of the factors the medical experts will consider is how many people are vaccinated in Australia.
Higher vaccination rates could result in the length of quarantine at home, and even in hotels, being reduced.
The AHPPC will also consider down the track whether people who have received one dose of vaccine could be eligible for home quarantine.
Tourism Minister Dan Tehan is hopeful that home quarantine could be an option for many Australians in the lead up to Christmas but said it was dependent on a handful of factors.
“Obviously it would depend on Australians continuing to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated, and if we can continue down that track then ultimately it would be wonderful to see home quarantine being used in the lead up to Christmas,” he said.
When can overseas travellers start at-home quarantine?
If you’re currently overseas and have been vaccinated, you still have to go through hotel quarantine for now — however, that may change in the future.
If the trial is successful, and when more Australians are vaccinated, the eligibility is set to be expanded.
It means people who are immunised overseas with a vaccine that Australia recognises could be allowed to home quarantine.
At this stage, that includes Pfizer, AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Moderna is set to be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration later in the year, so people who receive that jab could also be eligible for home quarantine — although that is likely to still be months away.