As the state prepares to reopen after a lengthy COVID-19 lockdown, New South Wales (NSW) will begin testing home quarantine for international newcomers at the end of this month.
A total of 175 people, including 50 Qantas aircrew, will participate in the pilot program, including two doses of a TGA-approved vaccine.
They must isolate for seven days, but positive cases must be quarantined for a total of 14 days.
Gladys Berejiklian, the Premier of New South Wales, expressed hope that families would be reunited soon and that hotels would be reopened to tourists.
“Hotel quarantine has been an important line of defense throughout this pandemic,” Bereijklian said, “but as we get closer to our vaccination targets, we have to look at new ways of doing things.”
According to NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres, high immunization rates were the key to the state's initial roadmap's success.
“This is a critical step in building and operationalizing a home-based quarantine system so that we can eventually phase out the majority of hotel quarantine,” Ayres said. “This is a huge step forward and a beacon of hope for all Australians still living abroad.”
The evidence gathered in the ongoing South Australian home quarantine trial, which relies on geolocation and facial recognition technology, will be expanded in the NSW trial.
According to Ayres, putting such technology on people's phones would allow police and health officials to watch them while they were quarantined at home.
He explained, "It's about ensuring we conduct the trial properly, build the evidence base so we can remove our hotel quarantine system for the majority of people coming into Australia." “By that, I mean those who have been double vaccinated so that we can eventually remove them from our hotel system.”
Privacy will be secured by the same methods as current NSW check-in policies, according to the government. On the other hand, police in other states were found to have infringed user privacy by accessing location data for check-in apps.
In the meantime, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that the pilot would ensure the country's safe reopening plan.
Morrison stated in a statement, "This is the next step in our plan to reopen and stay open safely." “NSW has done the lion's share of quarantining returning Australians and will be leading the way with this trial, which could set the standard for how we live in the future with COVID-19.”
“This could mean that more families and friends can reunite sooner, that more business can be done here, and that more workers for key industries can fill critical jobs.”
In addition, a home quarantine trial for qualified people returning from regional NSW will begin next week in Tasmania.
Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein stated, "It's been difficult, and I know many people have been frustrated, but it's time to bring Tasmanians home."
Only those from regional NSW who have been twice vaccinated and have a harmful COVID-19 rest will be considered.