Business calls on leaders to stick to the national reopening targets which provide a vaccination path to greater freedoms at 70 and 80 per cent coverage, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“Business is working with governments to accelerate the vaccine rollout and will significantly step up when more vaccine supply comes online.
“At 70 per cent, we need to start removing the high-cost restrictions holding back the economy. At 80 per cent, we cannot turn back; state-wide lockdowns and border restrictions must be a permanent thing of the past.
“Then we must begin the process of reopening the economy internationally with a focus on vaccination credentials and fit-for-purpose quarantine.
“Australian businesses, whether they are big or small, cannot continue to deal with the what-if and maybes - that’s no way to plan the reopening of the economy.
“This constant state of uncertainty means business has no ability to plan whether that’s undertaking a major project, putting extra staff on for an uninterrupted tourism season or buying inventory for a local café.
“We need certainty now, and we back the Prime Minister’s call to stick to the numbers and develop a detailed plan to reach the targets.
“If leaders walk away from the national reopening plan or make the targets meaningless, it will cripple community and business confidence and send a terrible signal to the rest of the world.
“The longer we stay as Fortress Australia, the slower and shallower our recovery will be as we deter foreign investment and major projects, due to the lack of skilled workers; as we put a ‘not welcome’ sign up to tourists; and as we say no to international students.
“Bit by bit, decision by decision we will find ourselves struggling to compete on the international stage in many sectors of the economy.
“We also now have an opportunity for a more nuanced approach to easing restrictions which can apply to LGAs with high vaccination rates and low case numbers.
“This could involve the return of secondary students to classrooms and increasing the capacity of the construction sector, which helps power the national economy, to 75 per cent when more than 50 per cent of onsite workers are fully vaccinated.
“Other high value, low risk industries such as some aspects of manufacturing could also ramp up using construction industry-style COVID safety plans.
“Fully vaccinated people should be rewarded, and the safe easing of some restrictions based on vaccination rates will help to incentivise more people to get a jab.
“The most important thing that business and the community needs now is a plan with precision that gives them hope. We need a roadmap across the Federation that outlines what reopening looks like for business and the community so people can start planning.’’