News Australia moves to close travel loophole

Australia moves to close travel loophole

Hamad International Airport confirmed passengers were able to fly through there to Australia, as long as they have the correct documentation. Photo: Reuters
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Australia has moved to shut off a loophole that allowed travellers from India to dodge a flight ban through transiting in Qatar.

India’s coronavirus catastrophe prompted Australia to pause all flights from the Asian nation until May 15.

Despite the ban, people who had been in India were allowed to fly to Australia after transiting through Qatar’s capital Doha.

Two Australian cricketers were among those who dodged the restriction after leaving the Indian Premier League.

Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson arrived on a flight from Doha on Thursday afternoon.

They received no special dispensation to return, travelling under the existing rules.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the loophole was closed shortly after their flight took off from Doha on Wednesday.

“Those transit passengers, the airlines advise us, are no longer coming through from Doha,” he told Sydney radio 2GB radio on Friday.

“The advice we had wasn’t fully correct so when we got the additional information we took that action.”

Direct commercial and repatriation flights from India to Australia have been suspended until mid-May in an effort to protect the hotel quarantine system.

Mr Morrison flagged further safeguards on stopping people using third countries to evade the Indian travel ban would be applied after Friday’s national cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister said indirect flights through Doha, Dubai, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur would be banned in a bid to keep people who had been in India out.

He now says the advice the government received before announcing the restrictions was wrong.

National cabinet will on Friday consider classifying more countries as high risk with India the sole nation on Australia’s list.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly and foreign affairs officials have been putting together a list of high-risk countries for consideration.

India set another gut-wrenching world record on Thursday with more than 379,000 new cases and 3645 deaths.

-with agencies