It’s time to reopen, reunite and recover: a pathway out

10 September 2021

New research from the Business Council of Australia shows almost 80 per cent of Australians want lockdowns and restrictions phased out once we meet our vaccination targets.

The research comes as the Business Council unveils a plan to deliver on Australians’ expectations by detailing how we can safely and carefully unwind the restrictions that are costing our economy $3 billion a week.

“Australians are doing their bit and getting vaccinated because they know it is our ticket back,’’ Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Today we’re releasing a plan to deliver what Australians expect in return for doing the right thing, greater freedom, a stronger economic recovery and an end to paralysing uncertainty.

“NSW is yet again leading the nation with the release of it’s roadmap which adopts many of our recommendations.

“We urge all state and territory leaders to do the same, put the nation first and start planning to rejoin the rest of the world.

“We can either move forward as one nation or risk standing still as a collection of divided states.

“Based on the national plan and informed by expert Doherty Institute led modelling, this is a plan to end the friction that makes it too difficult to plan and do business.

“This isn’t just about the staggering economic cost of lockdowns, it’s about letting Australians see their loved ones again, meet up with friends and just get on with their lives.

“We have shown we can bounce back and if we plan now to safely reopen, we can minimise the economic and social damage and get ourselves back on the recovery path.

“Our plan outlines the decisions we need to make now so we can hit the ground running once vaccination targets are hit.

“That means putting in place the systems needed to scale up for reopening and giving people clarity and peace of mind about which restrictions will end and when.

“The vaccines dramatically reduce the risks of transmission and serious illness, so as we get closer to reaching our targets we have to lay the groundwork to reopen now. 

“Lockdowns were originally intended to give us time to prepare to live with the virus, they can’t go on forever.

Prepare and plan for targets

“Our urgent first challenge is carefully planning to manage the safe easing of restrictions.

“The pathway out doesn’t mean losing focus on the health challenge, it means giving ourselves the ability to adapt to changes and maintain the capacity of our health system.

“We should be preparing to use new technologies like rapid antigen testing now, getting the protocols in workplaces and in homes ready to roll-out at scale.

“State governments should be clear on the manageable level of cases and they must prepare surge capacity in the event of outbreaks, including remote and regional areas.

Once we reach 70 per cent vaccination

“Once 70 per cent of the community is vaccinated, we should ease restrictions in lockdown states including getting kids back to school and the construction sector back up and running.

“We should also start to reward vaccinated Australians, giving them greater freedoms in line with their reduced health and transmission risks.

Once we reach 80 per cent vaccination

“At 80 per cent fully vaccinated Australians should be free from domestic restrictions, with hospitality, retail and manufacturing back to 100 per cent capacity.

“Some restrictions, like masks in high-risk environments and contact tracing will need to remain in place to keep Australians safe.

“The longer we take to act, the bigger the risk to Australia’s reputation as a good place to do business and create jobs.

“If we fail to plan now Australia risks falling behind as other nations get on with the task of attracting new investment, new jobs and new opportunities.

“The longer we delay planning to reopen and reunite, the bigger the risk to our international reputation as a good place to do business, invest, visit and create jobs.” 

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