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Business warns against easing restrictions too quickly ahead of vaccine


Big business has called for the coronavirus vaccine rollout to determine when restrictions ease in a bid to stop “knee-jerk” border closures

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The Business Council of Australia has released its plan to reopen the nation as the vaccine rollout enters its second week.

The group wants an end to snap border closures that it says cost Australia $2.1 billion a month and damage public confidence in interstate travel.

BCA boss Jennifer Westacott has urged state and federal leaders to consider the approach at Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

“As more Australians are vaccinated we can build confidence by unwinding the confusing patchwork of restrictions across the country in line with the reduced risk,” she said on Tuesday.

“Now that we know much more about the virus and have a clear vaccination rollout plan, there should be no excuse for knee-jerk reactions.”

The initial stages of the vaccine rollout have fallen behind on jab targets and endured a bumpy first week after a dosage bungle in Brisbane.

Federal Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck said the government always expected a few things to not work out in the early days of the program.

“We’re quite confident it will ramp up as the rollout goes on,” he told 2GB radio on Tuesday.

“We’re looking to be back on track by the end of week two.”

Senator Colbeck said the target of vaccinating all aged care residents within six weeks of the rollout’s start date remained on course.

“It’s appropriate we ramp this up in a safe and secure way,” he said.

Doses have fallen well short of the 60,000 target in the first week, but the government is confident ground can be made up.

More than 33,700 Australians had been vaccinated by Sunday evening, including 10,000 aged care residents.

The rollout is going slower than promised in residential aged care, with about 150 facilities to have completed the first dose of vaccinations by Monday.

The business council is also calling for targeted support for companies struggling with continued restrictions and border closures with JobKeeper wage subsidies due to finish at the end of this month.

“Sectors like tourism, where employment has halved since the pandemic began, will continue to be hard hit while international borders are closed,” Westacott said.

“With carefully targeted support we can position these businesses to ramp back up and re-create jobs once it is safe to do so.”

Australia recorded no locally acquired cases of coronavirus on Monday.

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