The human biosecurity period under the Biosecurity Act 2015 has been extended for a further two months.
The emergency period, which has been in place since 18 March 2020, will now continue until 17 April 2022.
The extension, declared by the Governor-General today, was informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.
The AHPPC has advised the current wave of Omicron cases in Australia warrants a further extension of the emergency period.
Whilst the peak of the Omicron wave has largely passed, the health advice is that this is an appropriate response while the Australian Government continues to develop and implement management strategies to mitigate the impacts of Omicron.
The extension means the five existing emergency requirements will remain in place until
17 April. However they may be revoked beforehand if the health advice changes noting the peak of the Omicron wave appears to have passed whilst there are still areas of concern and planning is occurring to manage any increase during winter.
The requirements include:
- Mandatory pre-departure testing and mask wearing for international flights
- Restrictions on outbound international travel for unvaccinated Australians
- Restrictions on the entry of cruise vessels into and within Australian territory
- Measures to prevent price gouging on rapid antigen tests
- Restrictions to protect remote communities in the Northern Territory.
In regards, to cruising. there was an agreement at National Cabinet that the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland agreed to work with the industry to implement new protocols to enable the resumption of cruising over coming months. The Commonwealth can remove the restrictions on cruising as soon as it is advised that it is safe to do so and the Minister will regularly review this advice.
These emergency requirements have helped Australia respond quickly to manage the number of inbound and outbound travellers, reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading on flights and at international airports in Australia, further manage the number of cases in quarantine facilities, and ensure the accessibility and affordability of rapid antigen test kits.
It is important that the human biosecurity emergency period remains in place to ensure the appropriate legislative powers are available to the Australian Government during Omicron outbreaks, as well as to protect vulnerable communities in Australia.
The emergency requirements will be reviewed regularly to consider the latest medical advice.