Months to Go Before New ‘COVID Normal’ in Australia

January 10, 2021 Updated: January 11, 2021

Governments will not be able to say what “the new normal” will look like before a COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out widely.

And chief medical officer Paul Kelly doesn’t expect that COVID-safe normal to appear until the second half of 2021.

“It is a bit hard to tell now … I can’t look into my crystal ball, I’m afraid,” Kelly told reporters in Canberra on Jan. 10.

“(But) every single person that gets their two doses of vaccine and get that very strong protection against severe illness, will give people more confidence, will give the public health system more confidence, will give our politicians—that need to make these decisions in the end—more confidence.”

Last week the federal government brought forward the start of the vaccine rollout to February, beginning with the vaccination of quarantine and border workers, frontline health officials, aged care workers and residents, and disability workers.

The government is hopeful a network of vaccination hubs will be able to deliver it to four million Australians by the end of March.

Meanwhile, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will on Monday reveal whether there is a need to extend the state’s snap lockdown that has been in place over the weekend.

Greater Brisbane’s strict lockdown ends at 6 p.m. on Monday, but some restrictions will remain until 1am on Friday Jan. 22.

Victoria also recorded zero cases for a fourth straight day on Sunday.

NSW was the only jurisdiction to report new local infections on Sunday—two in the Berala cluster and one in the northern beaches—even as restrictions were eased in the latter.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the main threat of her state’s clusters has subsided to some extent.

She thanked the northern beaches community for their sacrifices during the lockdown that began just before Christmas.

Colin Brinsden in Canberra