Home isolation will steadily replace hotel quarantine when Australia's international borders open up and overseas travel resumes from December 2021.
The length of that quarantine period could also be reduced to as little as 5-7 days for fully-vaccinated arrivals from countries considered to be in a 'low risk' category, as opposed to unrestricted travel bubble destinations, down from the current 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine for all arrivals.
Federal and state leaders and their health departments will this month pore over the results of South Australia's trial of home quarantine, which ended on the weekend after 50 residents returning to Adelaide from overseas spent 14 days quarantining at home, monitored by a smartphone app and random calls from health authorities.
Under the government's four-stage Covid-19 Response Plan, the third phase – triggered when the country reaches 80% of full vaccination, which is now on track for mid-November – should include the lifting of "all restrictions on outbound travel for vaccinated Australians" along with removing the current caps on returning vaccinated Australians.
There would also be a "gradual reopening of inward and outward international travel with safe countries and proportionate quarantine and reduced requirements for fully vaccinated inbound travellers."
"Home quarantine is where we go next," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Tuesday, "and the length of that quarantine also was what we're looking at."
Morrison will push the states and territories to detail "timetables about their introduction of home quarantine."
"Home quarantine needs to be at scale and needs to be tested and ready, and that's what's happening now, and that's what I'll continue to push to open the country up because that's what enables the national plan," Morrison said in a Sky News interview.
Last month, Morrison reiterated that "home quarantine needs to be a viable and widespread option for people who are travelling overseas and returning," as well as "people who are overseas and have been vaccinated with the vaccines that are recognised in Australia."
New South Wales already intends to wind down the hotel quarantine system that's been in place since the end of March 2020, and which has seen the state taking up the lion's share of international arrivals.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian remarked on Sunday that "the current quarantine system has nearly reached its use-by date in terms of how effective it is."
"When Australians (are) coming back home fully vaccinated with a credible vaccine, it would make sense that they could quarantine at home (and) we are already considering when we do that and how we do that."
Berejiklian said "the transition will start in earnest when we hit 70% double dose" – now pegged towards the end of October – although she noted "we still need some form of quarantine" for necessary arrivals from higher-risk countries, which could include "international students (and) skilled labour."
Australia will also begin issuing internationally-recognised digital vaccination certificates to speed the return of overseas travel, with Qantas planning to resume overseas flights from December 18.