BRISBANE, Australia — People entering Australia could provide coronavirus vaccination status through a new pre-check-in digital declaration when international borders reopen.
Home Affairs boss Michael Pezzullo expects the federal government’s digital passenger declaration to be trialed early next year.
“The digital passenger declaration will have the capability to validate the vaccination status of people who have been vaccinated in Australia when they return from overseas,” he said. “At the appropriate time, subject to public health advice, this could support Australians’ ability to travel without the need for 14 days quarantine on return.”
The new system could also recognize international vaccination certificates, both digital or in other forms.
“This will help to mitigate the risks posed by the use of fake or fraudulent vaccination certificates,” said Pezzullo.
The old regime of filling out a form shortly before landing in Australia will be replaced with a pre-check-in declaration, including health status, visa information, and travel history.
Pezzullo said health data would be securely shared with state public health authorities.
“We are going to have to bake in and build in health information into that declaration. There’s no point being told that an hour or two out from landing,” he said.
The Australian Border Force was dealing with close to 50 million passenger movements a year before borders closed, but the number is now about two percent of that.
Pezzullo is confident the new system will be ready to operate “at scale” to coincide with the federal budget’s assumption of international travel returning in mid-2022.
“Everyone in Australia will be offered a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine,” states the report. “High priority groups will get their vaccines first. National Cabinet has agreed that in line with the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunization, the Pfizer vaccine will be prioritized for people under 50 years of age across all phases. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be prioritized for people aged 50 years and over.”
Passengers traveling to Australia must be tested for Covid-19 72 hours or less prior to the scheduled flight departure and display evidence of a negative test result at the time of check-in. People arriving in Australia may be quarantined for 14 days and might have to comply with other state and territory travel restrictions.
“Australians who get their first vaccine dose overseas and return to Australia before their second dose will be able to get their second dose in Australia — if the first dose was for a vaccine available in Australia (i.e., the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine),” states the report.
(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Saptak Datta)
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