Despite record Covid-19 infections, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared on Tuesday that the country will not return to lockdowns.
Morrison told Xinhua that the time for “heavy-handed” government intervention to keep case numbers down was over.
“We’re not going back to lockdowns,” he said. “We’re not going back to shutting down peoples’ lives.”
“There will be other variants beyond Omicron, and we have to ensure, as a country, and as leaders around the country, we have put in place measures that Australians can live with,” he said.
His comments came ahead of an emergency meeting with state and territory leaders scheduled for Wednesday to discuss the surge in cases across Australia.
Morrison stated that the meeting would focus on how Australians can live with the virus “with common sense and responsibility,” but that he would present “strong recommendations” for indoor mask use to continue.
Australia reported more than 4,500 new locally acquired coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the most since the pandemic began.
During the pandemic, New South Wales alone reported 3,057 cases, the highest daily infection number among all states, while Victoria recorded 1,245. 154, 86, 16, 14 and four new cases were reported in South Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory, and Tasmania, respectively.
On Wednesday, leaders will also discuss whether Australians will need a third booster shot to be considered fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
The leaders of Australia’s two largest states, Victoria and New South Wales, confirmed on Tuesday that they would push for a reduction in the time between the second and third vaccine doses in order to combat the spread of the Omicron variant.