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A fired-up Scott Morrison has slammed rogue states who are threatening to keep Covid-19 restrictions even after high vaccination rates are achieved as he declared ‘this Groundhog Day has to end’.

Queensland has joined WA in threatening to maintain restrictions such as border closures even after 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated. 

The move contradicts the re-opening plan, agreed by all premiers at National Cabinet last month, which says Australia will relax restrictions once 70 per cent are vaccinated and stop minimising cases once 80 per cent are jabbed. 

Sydney’s lockdown will last until at least October. Pictured: Sydney residents on Monday

The Prime Minister defended his plan – which is based on scientific modelling – in a press conference on Monday morning and said Australia must learn to live with Covid-19.  

‘It does puzzle me – it puzzles me – why anyone would want to go against a plan that has been so carefully prepared,’ he said. 

Referring to lockdowns in Melbourne and Sydney, he said: ‘This is not a sustainable way to live in this country, without those freedoms that we all cherish.’

And in a warning to overly cautious states, he said there is no alternative to opening up once vaccination rates are high. 

‘Because if not at 70 per cent and 80 per cent then when? Then when?’

‘We have to deal with it. Otherwise we stay in the cave forever. That’s not a sustainable solution,’ he said.

‘I understand people will be concerned that cases may rise… the task is not to delay, the task is not to fear, the task is to embrace, prepare, plan, ensure that we are in a position to [open up].’ 

The Prime Minister said that once 70 per cent are vaccinated then lockdowns do more harm than good.

‘There will be risk attached to [opening up], but there is also risk being stuck where we are. This Groundhog Day has to end,’ he said. 

A fired-up Scott Morrison has slammed rogue states who are threatening to renege on the national Covid-19 re-opening plan

A fired-up Scott Morrison has slammed rogue states who are threatening to renege on the national Covid-19 re-opening plan

A fired-up Scott Morrison has slammed rogue states who are threatening to renege on the national Covid-19 re-opening plan

Queensland protesters demanded the NSW border open in a large rally on Sunday

Queensland protesters demanded the NSW border open in a large rally on Sunday

Queensland protesters demanded the NSW border open in a large rally on Sunday

Mr Morrison said Labor was deliberately undermining the re-opening plan for its own political purposes. Anthony Albanese on Sunday falsely said the plan could only go ahead if Covid-19 case numbers were low.  

Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles on Sunday said the state may keep its border closed to NSW if the southern state has high case numbers, regardless of vaccination rates.

‘We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves. We look to what’s happening in New South Wales every day and adjust our posture accordingly,’ Mr Miles said.

He falsely suggested the national plan was no longer valid because NSW was recording such high case numbers, with 830 on Sunday.

‘We’re signed up and committed to the plan that national cabinet endorsed but that was a plan that was endorsed before the New South Wales outbreak.’

The Prime Minster has been at pains to point out that the plan is not predicated on case numbers and can go ahead regardless of infection rates.  

Victoria recorded 71 new cases on Monday, its highest total in the most recent outbreak, while NSW recorded 818 new infections. 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has even vowed to turn off financial support for any state that goes rogue and keeps trying to eliminate Covid even after 80 per cent are jabbed.

Mr Morrison refused to say if that was a bluff, dismissing the scenario as ‘hypothetical’. 

Queensland has threatened to keep its NSW border (pictured at Coolangatta) closed even if the country reaches 70 per cent vaccination

Queensland has threatened to keep its NSW border (pictured at Coolangatta) closed even if the country reaches 70 per cent vaccination

Queensland has threatened to keep its NSW border (pictured at Coolangatta) closed even if the country reaches 70 per cent vaccination 

Police kept guard as Queensland protesters staged a rally calling for the NSW border to open

Police kept guard as Queensland protesters staged a rally calling for the NSW border to open

Police kept guard as Queensland protesters staged a rally calling for the NSW border to open

WA Premier Mark McGowan threatened to keep restrictions in place last week, telling Sky News: ‘Our preferred option is zero Covid obviously and that’s what we’ll attempt to do.

‘We don’t want to have deaths and we don’t want to have any spread of the virus.’

The 70 and 80 per cent vaccination figures are based on scientific modelling by The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. 

The model was based on starting to relax restrictions with 30 cases a day – but the scientists say the 70 and 80 per cent vaccination rates do not change if there are hundreds of cases.

The experts are doing further work and will advise National Cabinet on any extra precautions states should taken when relaxing rules later this year.  

Meanwhile, Qantas boss Alan Joyce blasted rogue premiers who have threatened to ignore the national plan. 

Queensland has threatened to renege on the national re-opening plan. Pictured: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Queensland has threatened to renege on the national re-opening plan. Pictured: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Queensland has threatened to renege on the national re-opening plan. Pictured: Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

‘Well, I think it would be a terrible shame and I think it would be a big backlash if people can maybe even go to London and visit relative there for Christmas but can’t go to Perth to visit their relatives,’ he told the ABC. 

‘I don’t think that’s what the expectation is and I’d say to the premiers, well, if getting the 70 to 80 per cent is not a way out of this, what is? 

‘What else do the Australian public need to do in order to get their lives back?’

He said lockdowns were destroying companies and plunging Australia into a mental health crisis, with calls to mental health hotlines soaring. 

‘There are consequences to lockdowns. They are needed now, we know that to protect the public, but they are causing mental health issues, they are causing businesses to fail, they are causing financial distress, and they have an impact on the health and wellbeing of the Australian public,’ he said.

‘And we can’t continue like this for years. So if this is not the path out of it, I’d ask the premiers what is the path out of this?’   

What are the four phases of opening up? 

A. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)

Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; early, stringent and short lockdowns if outbreaks occur; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals in South Australia; medicare vaccination certificates available on apps like apple wallet   

B. Post vaccination phase (when 70 per cent are jabbed, expected late this year)

Lockdowns less likely but possible; vaccinated people face reduced restrictions; caps for unvaccinated arrivals increased; a larger cap for vaccinated arrivals with ‘reduced quarantine requirements’; capped entry for students and economic visa holders  

C. Consolidation phase (when 80 per cent are jabbed, time not announced)

Only ‘highly targeted’ lockdowns; lifting all restrictions for outbound travel for vaccinated travellers; no caps for vaccinated arrivals; increased caps for students and visa holders; more travel bubbles being set up with countries such as Singapore; booster shots rolled out 

D. Final phase (percentage or time not announced)

Uncapped arrivals for vaccinated people without any quarantine and uncapped arrivals for unvaccinated people with testing before departure and on arrival 

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Source: Daily Mail

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