Sydney Airport (SYD) has welcomed the release of the Business Council of Australia’s (BCA) plan, ‘Shifting gear: three steps to safely, quickly and permanently reopen Australia in 2021‘, which provides a clear and coherent exit strategy from COVID-19 restrictions, aligned to Australia’s national vaccine roll out programme.
As Australia embarks on its biggest ever peacetime operation to roll-out vaccines for COVID-19, BCA outlined that the national approach to suppressing and containing the virus needed to evolve. As a result, BCA released the ‘Shifting gear’ plan to provide three clear steps to reopen the country and let people get on with their lives:
- Step one: Safely reopen Australia using best practice to drive national consistency, aligned with the vaccine roll-out
- Step two: Gradually change the public health narrative
- Step three: Continue targeted support for businesses that remain affected by government restrictions and/or international border closures.
Commenting on the release of the report, Sydney Airport’s CEO, Geoff Culbert, said: “This report today from the BCA sets out the terms of the ‘grand bargain,’ that is, if you get the vaccine, you get your life back. The economic recovery is important, but so is the social recovery. Once you’ve got the vaccine, you should be able to travel, see your family, plan weddings and do all those things in your life that have been on hold for the past 12 months. The first order of business must be achieving a consensus at the National Cabinet that State borders should stay open once the most vulnerable have been vaccinated.”
Sydney Airport’s 2020 air passenger traffic trends showed that, when state borders are open, people are keen to travel. Passenger traffic from May to July 2020 increased by more than 300 per cent during a short, unrestricted travel window from New South Wales (NSW) to Victoria and Queensland. Between October and December 2020, passenger traffic increased by a similar factor as interstate travel restrictions were eased before Christmas.
“Importantly, today’s report gives us an off-ramp from the international border restrictions that kept us safe but will soon become redundant as the vaccine rolls out here and around the world,” Culbert said. “Keeping the international border shut is costing Australia’s economy $250 million a day – that’s $7.6 billion every month.”