The cap on Australians returning from overseas will be increased by 150 additional places per day in Queensland, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced, as he reiterated the government’s intention to “look after Australians first”.
Following a national cabinet meeting on Friday, Mr Morrison said the number of Australians wishing to come home “has been growing every day”, with more than 35,000 Australians currently overseas registering interest in returning.
The limits will also now be measured over a week-period, instead of a daily cap, in order to increase flexibility.
“By doing them over a week we can get greater utilisation of the caps, which will increase our ability to get more Australians home, and wherever possible, we are looking for additional capacity,” Mr Morrison said.
“There is a queue, and Australians are at the front of the queue.”
This means international students, outside of previously announced pilot programs, would not be able to return to Australia “at this time”, he said.
More than 400,000 Australians have returned to the country from overseas since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mr Morrison will also meet with Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews next week to discuss reopening the state’s hotel quarantine program, after Victoria marked two weeks of no new coronavirus cases on Friday.
He also confirmed that all state and territory leaders, with the exception of Western Australia, had agreed to a plan to reopen Australia by Christmas.
“The plan importantly embeds public health metrics in ensuring that when Australia opens safely that it remains open safely, and that is incredibly important,” he said.
The government has also released details of their plans for a COVID-19 vaccination program, stating it would be free for all Australian citizens, permanent residents and “most visa-holders”.
More to come
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