International travellers are being allowed into Australia without having their vaccine status checked by Border Force officers, despite the dangers posed by the new Omicron strain of Covid-19.
Border Force relies on airlines to check and vouch for passengers' vaccination details at their port of departure before flying to Australia. Some passengers are checked again when they arrive at an Australian international airport.
Such inspections are being increased due to the Omicron variation, but Border Force officers still won't be checking every arriving passenger.
International travellers (pictured) wearing personal protective equipment arrive at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport on November 29, 2021. Some passengers are not having their vaccine details checked by Border Force
Since the first case of Omicron was detected in Australia last weekend, there have been five more infections.
The sixth case is a woman in her 30s who reportedly visited several venues on the NSW Central Coast while infectious.
She arrived in Sydney on Saturday after travelling to at least two southern African countries prior to her arrival.
People about to travel to Australia have to give details of their vaccination status through the online Australia Travel Declaration.
Giving false information or producing faked documents can lead to tough penalties.
'Verification of Covid-19 vaccinations occurs at check-in for departure to and from Australia, with the passenger presenting their international vaccination certificate to an airline agent,' a Border Force spokesman told the Herald Sun.
In many cases, Australian Border Force (pictured) relies on airlines to check and vouch for passengers' vaccination details at their port of departure before flying to Australia
'This will be accompanied by a legally binding attestation of their vaccination status in the Australia Travel Declaration.'
Information provided in the declaration identifies which passengers need to enter quarantine - based on, for example, which country they are coming from or have recently visited - and is used to refer them state and territory officials for quarantine and contact tracing.
The World Health Organization declared Omicron a 'variant of concern' quicker than it did with previous variants
Omicron highlights the need to boost vaccination in poorer parts of the world such as Africa
Experts say mask wearing, social distancing and better ventilation will help prevent all variants of Covid-19, including Omicron
From December 1, the federal government is introducing a Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) which will replace the existing physical incoming passenger card and travel declaration form.
Passengers can fill out the online declaration, including their vaccination status, up to 72 hours before leaving for Australia.
'The DPD will increasingly incorporate digital verification as international digital vaccine certificate systems come on line,' a spokesman said.
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews previously said the DPD would give 'a whole heap of information' to Australian border officials before passengers even board a plane.
This would then ensure a smoother process when they arrive at an Australian airport.
'We are making sure that when we are ready to reopen our international borders – when it's safe to do – that we will be able to bring passengers in and out of the country,' Ms Andrews said.
Vaccine details (Australian example pictured) of many international passengers are not checked upon arrival to Australia
Annastacia Palaszczuk introduces sweeping vaccine mandate for all workers at schools, childcare centres, prisons and airports - with Queensland on track to reopen borders EARLY despite Omicron
By Michael Pickering for Daily Mail Australia
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a sweeping Covid vaccine mandate for tens of thousands of workers.
Jabs will be compulsory for all workers at state and private schools, child care centres, prisons and youth detention complexes and airports.
Workers in those 'high-risk settings' will need to have received one dose of vaccine by December 17 and be fully vaccinated by January 23, Ms Palaszczuk said.
The Premier said a key reason for the announcement was protecting the state's most vulnerable residents.
'While children cannot access the vaccination, it is important those around them take every step they can to prevent the virus spreading in schools and early childhood centres,' she said.
'Airports are the gateway to the virus entering Queensland and there are vulnerable people in our corrections systems.'
Ms Palaszczuk defended the move as 'consistent with other states and territories such as New South Wales and Victoria'.
Ms Palaszczuk told the Queensland parliament on Tuesday morning that the state had reached 86.27 per cent of its eligible population with a first dose of a Covid vaccine and 76.08 per cent were now fully vaccinated.
The premier has previously said Queensland's borders might open earlier than December 17 to air and road travellers once the state reaches 80 per cent of its population fully vaccinated.
It's believed that mark could be reached as early as next week.
Fully vaccinated interstate travellers will not be required to quarantine on entry to Queensland once the 80 per cent full vaccination rate is reached.
The premier said the plan to re-open Queensland's borders to visitors by road and air on Dec 17 was not yet affected by news that the Omicron Covid variant had been detected in international arrivals to Sydney.
She planned to receive more information at a specially convened national cabinet meeting this afternoon.
Queensland recorded no new cases of community transmission of Covid on Tuesday, but two cases were detected in hotel quarantine, both from Melbourne.