ARRIVALS from overseas will be temporarily halved under a "new deal for Australians" Prime Minister Scott Morrison says will chart the nation's return to normal beyond the vaccine roll-out.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was a shift from suppression to management of the virus under a plan adopted at the meeting.
"We have agreed a new deal for Australians on the pathway out of COVID-19," he said.
"Australia gets vaccinated, Australia lives differently."
"The pathway we have agreed today I think gives all Australians encouragement and much-needed hope in what has been a challenging time."
Laying out the broad strokes of the plan, Mr Morrison said the first phase is the present pre-vaccination setting that has led to lockdowns around much of the country.
The next phase would be reached when a threshold of vaccinations, yet to be determined, was reached.
"This will be a scientific number, not an arbitrary number," he said. "That's the gate we've got to get through."
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That stage would potentially include lockdowns only in extreme situations, excluding vaccinated residents from lockdown measures and restoring overseas arrival numbers to their prior level.
The third phase, consolidation, would be reaching levels of hospitalisation comparable to influenza.
"When it is like the flu, we should treat it like the flu," Mr Morrison said.
That level would allow vaccinated people to be excluded from all lockdown measures and outbound travel to areas potentially including Singapore.
The final stage would be a return to normal.
Details of the four phases of the plan will be confirmed in the coming weeks, Mr Morrison said.
Those specifics will be "based on the agreed principles that were set out before national cabinet that I took to them today".
Mr Morrison said demand for government repatriation flights had dipped in recent weeks, but he expected capacity to be filled with cuts to the commercial arrival caps.
He also said there was "clear medical evidence" that shorter periods of quarantine would be possible if those arriving were vaccinated, with studies indicating seven days could be adequate.
"Getting vaccinated actually, clearly, helps, and the medical evidence backs that up," he said.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier indicated the arrival changes would be coming. She expressed frustration that the new measures would not preclude outbreaks or errors, noting her state had carried the "vast majority" of overseas arrivals.
Mr Morrison said it was no panacea to reduce the numbers of arrivals.
"While the reduction of those caps right across the system will take some pressure off ... that alone does not provide a failsafe to prevent any future breaches," Mr Morrison said.
"Because of the particular virulency of the Delta strain, it is believed that is a prudent step while we remain in the suppression stage of the plan."
"Navigating your way through COVID-19 is uncharted waters, and anyone who thinks there is a pathway without risk, without vulnerabilities, clearly doesn't understand."
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