Australia will likely begin a “slow methodical and safe opening” of its international borders in the first half of 2022, according to the nation’s former deputy chief medical officer.
Speaking on Today, Dr Nick Coatsworth denied he was in conflict with Prime Minister Scott Morrison over a timeline for opening borders for international travel.
“When you put your head up over the trench this is what happens,” Dr Coatsworth said, describing reaction to his recent comments about smashing the “false idol” of COVID-19 eradication in Australia.
Dr Coatsworth said he in “100 per cent agreement” with Mr Morrison.
But he said it was important to now start a conversation about how Australians will travel in 2022.
“What do we do when the majority of Australians are vaccinated and immune, safe from hospitalisation, safe from death from COVID-19 but there’s still critical events going on that people want to attend around the world?” he said.
“Do we still put them in hotel quarantine in 2022 at their expense?”
In a recent speech at the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons’ annual scientific meeting which made headlines over the weekend, Dr Coatsworth said Australia needed to ready itself for borders to open and the return of the virus into the community.
“The best way to make people feel more comfortable about COVID-19 is get vaccinated,” he said.
Dr Coatsworth said a poll showing three-quarters of Australians wanted borders to remain shut because of the coronavirus was “completely reasonable”.