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International travellers without COVID vaccination to be forced into quarantine

He said while there would be exemptions for those travellers with genuine medical reasons for not being vaccinated, there would be little tolerance for anti-vaxxers.

“We’ve got a lot of those issues to work through and so do all the other countries,” he said.

The vaccination requirements will likely be based on the current immigration process regarding yellow fever, where any incoming traveller entering the country from an area where the disease is prevalent must show Border Force documentation that they have been vaccinated against it.

If trials are successful, it is expected the World Health Organisation will move to add COVID-19 to its list of diseases that require vaccination declarations.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Tuesday that while there had yet to be any decisions made, he would expect people coming to Australia while COVID-19 was a significant disease would either be vaccinated or they would need to isolate.

“It’s not a formal decision that we’ve taken because it’s still not at that time. At this stage, everybody who comes has to quarantine,” Mr Hunt said.

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“The likely course of events during 2021 is if somebody comes to Australia and a vaccine is widely available, either they’ll be vaccinated with verification or they’ll have to quarantine.”

Australia shut down its international borders early in the pandemic and required those returning to quarantine.

Initially state and territory governments picked up the bill for mandatory hotel quarantine but in July they moved to a user-pays system, which put the costs on to returning travellers.

Qantas chief executive officer Alan Joyce warned earlier this week all passengers would need to be vaccinated against coronavirus once it became available before they would be permitted to fly on his airline.

“We will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft … for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country we think that’s a necessity,” Mr Joyce said.

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