PM Scott Morrison reduces caps and announces new rules for international arrivals into Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced new protocols for international arrivals making it compulsory for all passengers to wear face masks, including on domestic flights, besides the requirement of getting tested for COVID-19 before and after their travel.

Highlights:

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison announces new protocols for international arrivals
  • National Cabinet makes face masks compulsory for passengers on all flights
  • International passenger caps halved in NSW, WA and QLD until February 15

Addressing the media after the National Cabinet meeting on Friday, Mr Morrison said people must return a negative test before they travel to Australia with limited exemptions allowed for seasonal workers.

“Individuals – including travellers and staff – must undertake measures for infection prevention and control for international travel. That includes passengers to wear masks throughout international flights, crew to wear masks and other personal protective equipment where appropriate,” he said.

In addition, passengers on flights from the United Kingdom will also be subject to rapid testing for the new strain of the virus before they are allowed to fly into Australia.

International arrival caps to be reduced:

In a blow for Australians citizens and permanent residents stranded outside the country, Prime Minister also announced that the National Cabinet has agreed to reduce international arrival caps by 50 per cent in New South Wales, Western Australia and Queensland.

“That means, in New South Wales, there’ll be a weekly cap of 1,505. In Western Australia, the 50% reduction – these will be finalised with state jurisdictions – at 512.

“Queensland, at 500. Victoria, there’ll be no change, because they’re already operating at less than 50% of their current capacity, or on their way back,” Mr Morrison said.

He added that the arrival caps would automatically return to their previous levels on February 15.

“This is a temporary suspension of those higher levels of intake, as we learn more about what’s happening here and what’s going around the world and this isn’t the only new strain,” Mr Morrison said.

‘This is shocking and disappointing’

Sydney-based Mandeep Kaur who remains stuck with her husband and son in the north Indian state of Punjab since March has been scrambling for limited seats available on Air India flights and repatriation flights that have been organised by the Australian government – the only two return options available to Australians stuck in India.

Hard-hit by today’s announcement, the 32-year-old mum said this will make it “doubly harder” for families to return home.

“This is quite shocking, to be honest. We are already facing hardships as securing three tickets in one go has become even more challenging especially in India where most Australians are stranded.

“The government’s announcement to further scale down quarantine places means it could be months before we all return to our homes and lives in Australia. My son has been missing school and both I and my husband are at the verge of losing our jobs,” she rued.

As per the figures revealed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, out of more than 38,000 people who have registered their interest to return, at least 10,000 remain stuck in India.

Source: https://www.sbs.com.au/language/english/pm-scott-morrison-reduces-caps-and-announces-new-rules-for-international-arrivals-into-australia