Omicron puts pressure on Australia’s opening plans

The newly detected Omicron Covid-19 variant has thrown a spanner into Australia’s opening up plans ahead of Christmas.

The new strain of Covid was first detected in South Africa but has since spread across the globe with Australia reacting quickly to the news two travellers who arrived on Saturday were infected by shutting its border to nine southern Africa nations.

The states and territories have also reacted quickly with NSW and Victoria temporarily re-imposing a 72-hour self-isolation requirement for all international arrivals.

WA has shut its borders to South Australia as it allows in visitors from NSW and Victoria. Only vaccinated South Australians can enter WA but must quarantine for 14 days.

All international travellers and people arriving in South Australia from high-risk locations in Australia will once again be required to quarantine for 14 days.

All vaccinated international travellers into the ACT who have arrived in the last couple of days must quarantine until November 30.

Tourism and Trade Minister Dan Tehan has already seen first hand the disruption the new strain is causing globally after travelling to Geneva to be told that the WTO meetings he was scheduled to attend had been cancelled.

“The world at the moment is studying this new variant to see what potential impacts it might have,” Tehan told Kieran Gilbert on the Sunday Agenda.

“We’ve, as the health minister said, taking a very cautionary approach in stopping direct flights and stopping people who have been in those countries from coming to Australia. Or if you’re an Australian, you obviously have to do 14 days quarantine when you return to Australia.

“So we’ve taken a cautionary approach. That’s what we’ll continue to take as we work through what this variant is all about, what potential impacts it might have.”