News Coronavirus Limits on international arrivals to be revised

Limits on international arrivals to be revised

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More Australians will soon be able to head home. Photo: Getty
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The limit on the number of Australians able to arrive home is being revised after a meeting of the nation’s leaders.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more Australians needed to be able to return home.

Transport Minister Michael McCormack will work with states to see if flights currently set for Sydney can instead arrive in other cities.

At the moment, the number of Australians allowed to return home each week is capped at 4000, with Sydney taking the greatest numbers.

Victoria suspended its quarantine program as it struggled to cope with rising coronavirus cases in its second wave.

It’s unlikely more flights will travel to NSW, with Mr Morrison saying other states had to help ease the load.

“We want to get more Australians home,” he said on Friday.

“We need to do that safely as well, and not compromise the quarantine arrangements we have here as well. ”

The limits are intended to ensure the mandatory hotel quarantine system is sustainable.

No international flights are currently going to Tasmania, but Mr Morrison said that state was willing to help depending on commercial flights being willing to fly there.

“I’d be surprised if they were running at anything other than a massive loss on every single flight,” Mr Morrison said.

“So to get them to go to places that would enable us to get more Australians back into the country, I think it would be very useful.”

About 23,000 Australians are still trying to get home.

Labor has demanded the government raise the cap on international arrivals to allow more Australians stranded overseas to return home.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally lambasted Mr Morrison about the thousands of stranded Australians seeking to get home.

The number has jumped 20 per cent in the past fortnight, with 3450 of the stranded people considered medically or financially vulnerable.

Meanwhile, Australia’s international travel ban has been extended for three months, with the coronavirus pandemic set to continue into 2021.

Cruise ships and regular international flights will remain suspended under an extension to the human biosecurity emergency period.

The rules, which came into place in mid-March, will continue until at least December 17.

Australia’s expert medical panel – the AHPPC – recommended the federal government keep the measures in place.

“AHPPC has advised that the international and domestic COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

“The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk.”

The sale and supply of some essential goods are protected during the emergency rules, which also restrict retail at international airports.

-with AAP