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Federal government piles pressure on the states over border closures

Scenes on the Gold Coast Highway at the Queensland and New South Wales border on the Gold Coast, Friday, July 23, 2021. (AAP Image/Jason O'Brien) NO ARCHIVING Source: AAP

The Federal Government is putting pressure on the states and territories to maintain their commitment to ending lockdowns and border restrictions once 80 per cent of the eligible adult population is vaccinated against COVID-19.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says each jurisdiction needs to commit to re-opening.   

"With respect to the premiers, my message is clear. Stick to the plan, a plan that you agreed to at National Cabinet. A plan that gives Australians hope."

The 70 to 80 per cent vaccination targets only capture people aged 16 and over and the Greens leader, Adam Bandt, is calling for specific vaccination targets for children, Indigenous people and people with disabilities so that they are protected when restrictions are lifted.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there will be provisions made for vulnerable groups.    

"There will be a very clear and cooperative national strategy that deals with the ongoing public health needs of disadvantaged communities. That plan will ensure that the broader community will also be able to go forward and this is why it's a safe plan. It's a safe plan that enables the broad spectrum of Australia to move ahead and to avoid these terrible lockdowns that are causing so much pain."

Victoria has now abandoned its goal of achieving COVID-Zero and Mr Andrews says the focus is now on suppressing cases and lifting vaccination rates.

Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton says people who aren't vaccinated need to realise it could be weeks before Pfizer is available to them.

"If you're yet to be vaccinated please book in. We know that AstraZeneca is a great vaccine. Of the almost one million doubled dosed [fully vaccinated] Victorians who have had that AstraZeneca vaccine, none of them are in ICU now, none of them. So it provides really substantial protection, you have to keep that in mind when you're maybe wavering on waiting for Pfizer that might be weeks away for you."

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People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 meters away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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