Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the idea that Australia can survive with state borders until there is a viable vaccine places the entire economy at risk, while speaking of his hopes borders would open sooner rather than later.
Speaking on Friday, Morrison said he believes state and territory restrictions should be wound back once the Victorian outbreak is brought under control.
Morrison said Australia also needs to have a firm definition of what constitutes a hotspot to help Australians understand travel restrictions. Continuing, he said he believes domestic travel could be back up in time for Christmas.
“What's important is that when these infection rates get down to low levels that then we stick to the plan which I think NSW has done, which is to limit the virus,” Morrison said.
“Borders of themselves, they don’t actually do the job ultimately because borders can be breached. That’s been seen in Queensland: they have borders but they’ve seen cases in Queensland.”
Instead, states need to ensure their testing and tracing capabilities are strong enough to prevent and contain outbreaks.
“That's what enables you to live with the virus. The idea that we're going to live with domestic borders until there’s a vaccine is a recipe for economic ruin. That is not the plan.
“The plan is to ensure testing, tracing and outbreak containment, strong quarantine, COVID safe behaviours in the workplace, in the home, at the footy club, at the ground, in this conference. That is how you live with the virus and keep people in jobs.
“Borders don’t do that. Borders are not the answer. They can provide a necessary support and constraint in a heightened crisis, but they are a last go to effort.”
Morrison’s words come ahead of the latest national accounts figures, due to be released on Wednesday. Economists are predicting a 6 per cent GDP contraction, with the situation in Victoria presenting further barriers to the economic recovery.