Australia’s road map to a Covid normal life has been under threat in recent days as Western Australia and Queensland indicated they want to keep their borders closed to stop the virus creeping in from NSW.
But Mr Morrison on Tuesday urged state premiers not to waiver from the national plan to ease restrictions when vaccination rates hit 70 and 80 per cent.
“Let me be clear, there is nothing more powerful to deal with Covid-19 than the vaccine,” he told Sunrise.
“There is no government, no individual, no set of border protections that is more powerful than the vaccine.
“Once the vaccine is there at 70 and 80 per cent, you do more harm than good to your people by locking them down and locking them up and keeping them in the cave.”
Mr Morrison said if the plan was followed then there was “no reason” why Australians couldn’t be reunited for Christmas.
“I believe we will be able to be in that position if we had those marks of 70 per cent and 80 per cent because there is no reason why you shouldn't be,” he said.
The prime minister has sought to ramp up the pressure on the states to fall into line and to prepare Australians for more cases and deaths as restrictions ease.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Monday said “the goalposts have changed” since she agreed to the plan.
The plan, Ms Palaszczuk argued, was modelled on an initial outbreak of 30 cases, noting there are now “thousands” of cases across Australia.
“This is a book that hasn’t been written, folks. This is uncharted territory,” she said.
But late Monday evening, the Doherty Institute – which mapped Australia’s way out of the pandemic – said reopening the country was still safe despite higher case numbers.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel – once we achieve 70 per cent -80 per cent vaccination we will see less transmission of Covid-19 and fewer people with severe illness, and therefore fewer hospitalisations and deaths,” a statement read.
“Covid-19 won’t go away but it will be easier to control in the future.”
“This level of vaccination will make it easier to live with the virus, as we do with other viruses such as the flu.
“However, it won’t be possible to maintain a situation where there are no cases at all.”
The Doherty Institute estimated at phase B – or 70 per cent – Australia could see 385,983 symptomatic cases of Covid-19 and 1457 deaths over six months.
Testing and tracing cases as well as isolating and quarantining those who test positive, will assist in keeping the numbers down.
Mr Morrison said the restrictions in this phase is just “common sense”.
“There is not zero restrictions, there are common sense baseline level restrictions and I wouldn't even call them restrictions, it’s just common sense behaviour,” he said.
“Washing your hands and maintaining good hygiene and doing all that sort of common sense stuff.”