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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 02 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 February 2021) . . Page.. 283 ..

In addition, air crew must take a COVID-19 test every seven days, or on arrival in Australia, and quarantine between international flights or for a full 14 days. A further step agreed at National Cabinet now requires all passengers and air crew to wear masks on domestic flights and in all airports around Australia, including Canberra Airport, except children under 12 years or those who have a particular reason for being unable to wear a mask. This is an additional safety measure to reduce possible risks associated with air travel. Canberra Airport remains safe and the risk of flying domestically remains low with these protective measures in place.

Madam Speaker, as I have indicated, the ACT is continuing to support efforts to return Australians wishing to return home from overseas. Just yesterday we received a government-facilitated flight from Chennai, India, with 166 passengers on board. I am pleased to inform the Assembly that all passengers are safely quarantining in hotel accommodation, supported by ACT Health, ACT Policing and the Australian Defence Force.

To date, the ACT has supported the repatriation of 790 Australian citizens and permanent residents seeking to return home, with our safeguarding Canberrans surveillance program minimising the risk of these flights to our community. We will continue to support repatriation efforts, and ACT Health is working closely with the Australian government to arrange further government-facilitated flights, where the ACT can accommodate these flights.

On 7 January the Prime Minister announced that the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program would be brought forward to February 2021. The commonwealth government is leading the program, in close partnership with all state and territory governments. This continues to be an enormous effort for everyone involved.

I would like to acknowledge the ACT government officials who worked extremely hard over the Christmas and New Year period on planning for this significant operational and logistical challenge. The rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is being guided by the Australian COVID-19 vaccination policy, which sets out the roles and responsibilities of the commonwealth government and ACT government in relation to the implementation of a COVID-19 vaccination program. In designing the rollout of this program, the commonwealth and ACT governments have consulted with medical and technical experts and peak bodies.

Through today’s budget, the ACT government is contributing $19 million, plus $4.5 million in capital funding, to support a timely national rollout of the vaccines. We are in the final stages of establishing vaccination clinics. We are also working with peak bodies, employers and key sectors to identify priority populations for each stage of the program rollout.

I want to emphasise to Canberrans that the initial stages of this program will be targeted and limited. It will build over time but is dependent on the commonwealth and the supply of vaccines. We have been working, and will continue to work, closely with the commonwealth government to ensure that Canberrans are well informed about the vaccination program. Our priority is to deliver a safe, efficient, targeted vaccination program for Canberrans.

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