Australia

The weekly cap on international arrivals to Australia is lifting by hundreds of places


The cap on international arrivals will shortly be lifted by hundreds of places per week, enabling more Australians stranded overseas to come home.

Following a national cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 140 extra people would be able to arrive into Western Australia, and 150 more in Queensland, from next month. 

In a statement a few hours later, Mr Morrison also said an extra 100 people every 14-16 days would also be permitted to arrive in Adelaide and a further arrangement soon to be finalised with the ACT would support 150 returning Australians every 16-18 days.

The weekly cap on international arrivals currently sits at 6,000.

Following the national cabinet meeting, Mr Morrison said the states and territories had agreed to look at trialing new forms of quarantine on a small scale before international travel restarts, “whether that’s quarantine at home, on a farm, on camp at a mining camp [or] on campus”.

The prime minister also confirmed 161 Australians who were stranded in London had touched down in Darwin on a repatriation flight on Friday.

He said there were around 2,800 vulnerable Australians still overseas, for whom the federal government has been prioritising a return.

The number of Australians seeking to return home continues to rise, with a Senate estimates committee told this week some 32,000 people have put their names forward to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for repatriation.

The figure was 18,800 in late August. 

The federal government has announced a raft of new charter flights to bring stranded Australians home, one of which was the London flight that arrived in Darwin on Friday, but some of those still stuck abroad told SBS News earlier this week they were disappointed by the move.

Mr Morrison said the government’s strategy of lifting arrival caps is the best approach to getting more Australians back home.

“The most effective way we’re getting Australians home is by increasing Australia’s cap,” he said. 

“As we keep increasing the caps, then that will only aid us as we continue on the path we are on … to get Australians home by Christmas.”

Tasmania has offered to take international arrivals if required and Mr Morrison is hopeful Victoria will also be able to receive them again in the coming weeks. 

Prior to the state being struck by a second wave of coronavirus, Melbourne was Australia’s second-largest international entry point.

All states and territories, with the exception of Western Australia, also reiterated their support on Friday to reopen domestic borders by Christmas.

Earlier in the day, it was revealed the identities of Australians stranded overseas had been accidentally exposed for the third time in as many months. 

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said her department was working to ensure it did not happen again.

“I am very sorry that these events have occurred,” she told ABC radio.

With AAP.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’s restrictions on gathering limits. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmania.

 

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