Travellers urged to stay clear of regions

Australians are warned to delay travel plans until vaccination rates in regional areas improve.
Australians are warned to delay travel plans until vaccination rates in regional areas improve.

Lower vaccination rates in parts of regional Australia have sparked concerns about people travelling from coronavirus-infected cities when rules ease.

NSW appears to be wavering on regional travel as the state bounds towards an 80 per cent full vaccination rate in coming days.

"The regional vaccination rate in New South Wales is not obviously at the same level as Greater Sydney's," Premier Dominic Perrottet said on Wednesday.

The state government flagged regional travel restarting at 80 per cent, with the city-country vaccination divide potentially shaping as a national test case.

Victoria's roadmap allows travel from Melbourne when the state hits 80 per cent double-dose coverage, expected in early November.

Leading epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws believes tourists should be kept away from regional areas until vaccine coverage in cities more closely aligns with the country.

"We've got to wait until it is further down the track, until the regional areas have had enough access to the vaccine for their safety," she told the Nine Network.

Professor McLaws said 60 per cent statewide coverage in Victoria didn't mean all areas had reached the same rate.

"It's a very safe idea to keep us away until we ensure that those regional areas, particularly the ones where tourists like to go to, don't see them at the moment," she said.

"They really do need to have an enormous vaccine drive in some of those areas."

Federal Employment Minister Stuart Robert continues to demand a plan for border reopening from the Queensland government.

"There is a very real possibility that everyone in New South Wales and Victoria will be able to go to Canada before they can come to Currumbin or Cairns," he told 4BC radio.

"That's just ridiculous, especially when 80 per cent of all tourism to the Gold Coast comes from the southern states."

Mr Perrottet is expecting most state borders to be open before Christmas.

"If you look at the vaccination rates in Queensland and Victoria, they're also increasing at good rates as well," he said.

"I don't think it will be too long before we'll be able to have those announcements."

Australia's national double-dose vaccination rate for people aged 16 and above is 64.4 per cent while more than 83.2 per cent have received one dose.

Victoria recorded 1571 new infections and 13 deaths, while NSW registered 444 cases and four fatalities on Wednesday.

The NT and ACT - which detected 51 new cases - announced more mandatory vaccinations for workers in certain industries.

Canberra's primary school teachers and early childhood educators will need to be fully vaccinated by the end of November.

The NT has opted for a broader mandate with all workers who come into contact with high-risk people including Indigenous people required to be immunised.

The rule will apply to public-facing workers, who will face $5000 fines unless they are fully vaccinated by Christmas Eve.

In Tasmania, a 31-year-old NSW man who illegally travelled to the island and escaped hotel quarantine tested positive to coronavirus.

Australian Associated Press