SYDNEY — Australia’s prime minister says he expects his country to open its international border well before the end of the year.
Australian governments have agreed to ease tight restrictions on overseas travel when 80% of the population aged 16 and older was fully vaccinated.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the first steps would allow Australians to leave and
fully vaccinated citizens and permanent residents to return home.
“That will occur before the end of the year. It could happen well before that,” Morrison told American broadcaster CBS News.
More than 90% of the target age group in Australia’s most populous state and the worst impacted by the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak, New South Wales, will be vaccinated by the end of November, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.
New South Wales reported 787 new locally acquired infections on Monday and 12 deaths in the latest 24-hour period.
Sydney’s lockdown would ease on Oct. 11 after 70% of the state’s population had received second doses of vaccine, Berejiklian said. With 85% of the target population already injected with at least a single vaccine dose, the 80% target is expected to be reached two weeks after the 70% benchmark.
On Dec. 1, unvaccinated people are expected to have their pandemic restrictions lifted.
State Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said she expected 92% of the target population would eventually be vaccinated.
New South Wales has the fastest vaccination rollout in Australia after the Australian Capital Territory.