Tourism minister Dan Tehan has rebuffed possible Victorian plans to make international tourists visiting the state be triple vaccinated.
International tourists will be allowed to travel to Australia from February 21 after nearly two years of border closures, with travelers required to have two COVID-19 vaccine doses to enter the country.
However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has hinted at the possibility of a third dose may be required, in line with rules applying to residents, allowing them to enter hospitality venues or major events.
Mr Tehan said it was critical for there to be an unified approach from states and territories when international travelers return.
“It will cause problems because there will be a different message,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
“We would call on all states and territories to follow the ATAGI advice … that’s been the requirements for international students and backpackers.”
While there has been debate among medical experts and chief health officers on whether to change the definition of fully vaccinated to include a third dose, the peak advisory body ATAGI has stressed two doses are required for international travellers to enter the country.
Mr Tehan said the federal government would follow the ATAGI advice and that from chief medical officers.
“At the moment, it’s two doses, it’s working very well in terms of getting the international students back,” he said.
“We need very clear advice to international tourists what the requirements are … and so we should be out there selling that message loud and clear.”
Infectious diseases expert Professor Peter Collignon said a consistent approach was needed for international visitors, while tourists should keep an open mind about getting a third dose.
“I think we should be careful about having too stringent vaccine requirements,” he told the Nine Network.
“I think we have to be careful with the regulations.”
Professor Collignon indicated the country had passed the peak of Omicron cases, with another peak not likely to occur coinciding with students’ return to schools.
“We might see a bit of a pick up but it will go down, it will probably come up again in winter, but I think we are seeing good news all around Australia.”
The infectious diseases expert said the peak of deaths associated with the Omicron wave would be two to three weeks after the peak of cases.
Nationally, a further 68 coronavirus fatalities were recorded.
Queensland registered its deadliest day of the pandemic with 24 deaths, while there were 21 in Victoria, 20 in NSW, two in Tasmania and one in the ACT.
The latest case numbers showed 28,171 new cases across the country.
Of those, 10,312 were in NSW, while Victoria had 9908, Queensland had 6902, Tasmania had 574 and there were 475 infections in the ACT.
Australian Associated Press