‘A dark day’: Australia’s decision to scrap COVID isolation rules met with criticism

News

Australia is lifting mandatory COVID isolation rules from next month, scrapping one of the last remaining pandemic restrictions.

The current five-day home quarantine requirement for those who test positive for the virus will be lifted from 14 October.

Announcing the move, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said: “We want a policy that promotes resilience and capacity-building and reduces a reliance on government intervention.”

Along with abolishing mandatory quarantine, they will also be scrapping pandemic payments for casual workers with the PM saying it “isn’t sustainable for government to pay people’s wages forever”.

The move marks a substantial change in the way Australia is handling the pandemic, having previously had some of the strictest restrictions in the world.

Having previously been nicknamed “Fortress Australia”, the nation has relied on harsh border controls and stringent COVID lockdowns.

Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, said: “The crucial point is that the emergency response phase is probably finished at this point in the pandemic. This virus will be around for many years but it’s time to consider different ways of dealing with it.”

More on Australia

Business groups in the country welcomed the decision with the Business Council of Australia saying: “The emergency phase of this pandemic is over, so we’ve got to shift gear, move with the rest of the world and manage for the long term.

“Australians want to get on with their lives and that means taking personal responsibility for their health decisions, just as they do with other viruses like the flu.”

Advertisement

However, the relaxation of restrictions was not welcomed by all with some medical groups saying it would put the public at risk.

Australian Medical Association President, Steve Robson, criticised the decision saying: “I think people who are pushing for the isolation periods to be cut are not scientifically literate.”

Read more:
Blood test could identify long-COVID risk and allow early intervention
COVID-19 pandemic changed our personalities, claims study
Japan to ease COVID border restrictions for foreign travellers

Professor Brendan Crabb, a microbiologist and chief executive of the Burnet Institute, went further, saying today was a “dark day” and branded the lifting of restrictions “distressing”, “illogical” and “uninformed”.

Australia is one of the most heavily vaccinated countries in the world with around 96.5% of over 16s double jabbed and just under 72% boosted.

Hospital admissions and infections have been declining in the country following a large Omicron outbreak during the winter.

So far, Australia has recorded about 10.2 million infections and 15,153 deaths over the course of the pandemic, which is much lower than many developed countries.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.