The NSW and Commonwealth governments will launch a home quarantine pilot in Greater Sydney next month, as NSW transitions towards opening up international borders.
The pilot, to be operated and monitored by NSW Health and NSW Police, will trial a seven day home quarantine program for around 175 people.
Participants in the pilot will have had both doses of a TGA-accredited COVID-19 vaccine.
The participants will be selected by NSW Health, based on a risk assessment framework, and may include some NSW residents, some non-Australian residents and some Qantas air crew.
The isolation period will be reduced from 14 to seven days.
The pilot program is being run in partnership with the Commonwealth Government and findings will inform future quarantine programs.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the pilot would help secure Australia’s safe reopening plan.
“This is the next step in our plan to safely reopen, and to stay safely open,” the Prime Minister said.
“NSW has carried the lion’s share of quarantining returning Australians and will be leading the way with this trial that could set the standard for the next phases of the way we live with COVID-19.
“This could mean more families and friends being able to reunite more quickly, more business being able to be done here, and more workers for key industries being able to fill critical jobs.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the home quarantine program is critical to bringing more Australians home while keeping the community safe.
“NSW has quarantined over 245,000 travellers throughout this pandemic, by far the most of any jurisdiction in the country and this pilot will lay the foundations for us to reunite even more families and friends who are fully vaccinated,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Hotel quarantine has been an important line of defence throughout this pandemic but as we move towards our vaccination targets, we have to look at new ways of doing things.”
“The safety of the community remains our number one priority and the rules around this home quarantine pilot will be strictly enforced.”
NSW will utilise a mobile phone app based on that already in use in South Australia. The app uses geolocation and face recognition technology to monitor isolation compliance. The app will also provide people with a testing schedule and symptom checker.
Privacy will be protected through the same mechanisms as the current Service NSW check-in regulations.
Random in-person police checks will also be conducted, and the existing penalties for individuals who breach conditions of their isolation still apply.
The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer has discussed the pilot’s arrangements with the NSW Chief Health Officer and supports the shortened quarantine period proposed for this pilot and for the proposed cohort of fully vaccinated travellers, vaccinated with a TGA approved vaccine.
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said improving vaccination rates mean a home quarantine trial is now a viable option.
“As more people around the world and here in NSW get vaccinated, we can start to consider things that make lives easier, like home quarantine,” Mr Ayres said.
“NSW looks forward to reopening and to accepting a greater number of international arrivals.
“Now is the ideal time to pilot a home quarantine solution as we transition towards opening up.”
The pilot will run from later this month and operate for four weeks.