Australian airline Qantas to require COVID-19 vaccination for international travelers

Australia's Qantas will insist in future that international travelers have a COVID-19 vaccination before they fly, describing the move as "a necessity".
"We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say, for international travelers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft," Chief Executive Alan Joyce told broadcaster Channel Nine.
"Whether you need that domestically, we will have to see what happens with COVID-19 in the market. But certainly, for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that's a necessity."
Australia closed its international borders in March during the first wave of the pandemic and currently requires returning travelers from overseas to quarantine for two weeks.
Australia's Victoria state, meanwhile, the country's virus hotspot, said on Tuesday it had zero active cases of coronavirus for the first time in more than eight months, putting it on track to effectively eliminate the virus.
Australia's second-most populous state reported zero new cases for a 25th straight day, having imposed restrictions on public movement and shut down large parts of the economy after daily infections peaked at more than 700 in early August.
Victoria accounts for more than 73% of the country's total virus cases and 90% of national deaths. Australia has reported more than 27,800 cases and 907 deaths since the pandemic began.
Queensland state will lift border restrictions on the country's two most populous states from December, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said on Tuesday, in a boost for the tourism industry.
Queensland, a popular holiday destination, closed its borders to travelers from New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria in August following clusters of COVID-19.
However, NSW has since notched a month without any COVID-19 cases where the source remains unknown and restrictions on arrivals from Sydney will be eased on Dec 1, Palaszczuk said.
Residents of Victoria, previously the country's coronavirus hotspot, will also be welcomed if the state does not a record a case on Wednesday, which would mark 26 days without community transmission.
"Queensland is good to go," Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane.
NSW and Victoria opened their border on Monday, while the South Australia-Victorian border opens fully next week, in welcome news for local airline companies, Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia.
Qantas said it will run more than 1,200 return flights from Victoria and NSW into Queensland in the run-up to Christmas.
The moves will please Prime Minister Scott Morrison who has pushed state leaders to relax some curbs to help revive the economy, which shrank 7% in the three months to end-June, the most since records began in 1959.
Looking further out, Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australia - which has agreed to buy nearly 34 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine - is increasingly confident it can complete a vaccination program after the release of preliminary trial results.
"Our vaccine timeline is beginning to strengthen. The news from overseas is that we are on track for first vaccines in March," Hunt told reporters in Sydney.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.
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