During his lengthy Sunday appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked about a host of issues. He was briefly asked by host Margaret Brennan about his country's strict lockdowns in the face of the Wuhan coronavirus, which he defended.
As Brennan reminded the prime minister, "Australia is one of the few Western democracies that has really put in place some very, very strict COVID protocols. You shut down your borders 18 months ago," before going on to ask him "when will they reopen? Are you going to have vaccine passports? When will Australians be able to leave?"
Prime Minister Morrison offered that "we will see our international borders, particularly for Australians to leave and return, and Australians who are overseas who have been vaccinated to return and that will occur before the end of the year, and it could happen well before that."
Other than that timeframe, the prime minister didn't provide many specifics. He touted his country's vaccination rates, but it was more so a matter of "and we'll be able to open up those borders" and that "it is getting us to a place where we'll be able to open again."
What Morrison did stick to was saving lives of Australians.
COVID IN AUSTRALIA: PM Scott Morrison says shutting down Australia’s borders saved the lives of more than 30,000 Australians. pic.twitter.com/LwSOsKZTc4— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) September 26, 2021
Even when Brennan broached the topic as a matter of asking "do you think less liberty is medically necessary? We have a huge argument over that in this country. Why did you think it was worth it in Australia," Morrison's response was merely that "30,000 lives is the simple answer."
Morrison did also acknowledge that there was more strict lockdowns, due to the Delta variant:
MARGARET BRENNAN: In Melbourne this week, you did have some protests--
PRIME MINISTER MORRISON: We did.
MARGARET BRENNAN: --against mandates. So, is there just sort of an exhaustion level here politically that makes it difficult for you to try to control the virus?
PRIME MINISTER MORRISON: The Delta variant is the game changer when that started hitting around the world from about mid this year. Of course, it's had a devastating effect here in the United States. We have had a lot of success with COVID in managing the virus pre delta where we didn't have to go into lockdowns. We could manage it through the testing and tracing, isolation, borders, quarantine. All of that was very effective. But when Delta hit, it was- it changed everything. And so regrettably, we've had lockdowns in our two biggest cities in Sydney- Sydney and Melbourne now for- for many months, and we're looking forward to the end of that. And those restrictions are already starting to ease. And the vaccination programme, which has been running successfully, our rates of vaccination on a daily basis per capita have even exceeded those that were achieved in the United States, in the United Kingdom at their peak. And so that is getting us to a place where we'll be able to open again.
Despite having been fully vaccinated for months, Prime Minister Morrison confirmed to Brennan he will quarantine upon returning to Australia.
The Guardian staff put together a comprehensive and chilly explanation of what's allowed and what's not. Residents can only leave their home for a very limited amount of reasons, and can only travel up to 15km away, or about 9 miles. If up five people want to meet for "personal training" reasons outside, they must all be vaccinated. Masks must be worn indoors and outdoors, except when it comes to people being in their own homes.
Complete lockdowns have occurred in Australia over a matter of a single case.
As Matt wrote about last month, Australia has gone on to build camps for COVID patients, or as they put it, there's going to be a "dedicated regional quarantine facility."
And, earlier this month, I delved into an Australian method of compliance for quarantine measures, which involves facial recognition technology. As Byron Kaye has reported for Reuters since then, it is in fact in the trial stage for Australian states.
When Brennan brought up that "people in this country won't wear masks," meaning here at home, Morrison's brief response was that "that's a matter for the United States."
Another difference between Australia and the United States is that Australia doesn't have a Second Amendment. The people surrendered their guns to be willingly confiscated in 1996 and 1997.