MIAMI – Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has announced that the country’s international arrival caps would return to a higher rate. However, the PM also argued that for the near future, the hotel quarantine process would proceed as before irrespective of vaccination process.
The government decreased the cap at the beginning of 2021, after the second COVID cluster in Sydney. Moreover, fears of more communicable foreign variants of the virus that could spill into the country are another factor. Based on the Government’s new decision, New South Wales will revert to its weekly limit of 3,010 from February 15 and Queensland rise to 1,000.
The full revised limits are: Victoria sees an increase from 1,120 to 1,310, SA will rise by 40 from current level also. WA will remain fixed and in total the current level of 4127 will revert to 6362. The new limits will not affect the repatriation flights by the government to Canberra and Hobart.
Ups and Downs of Arrival Cap
Temporary cuts have been part of the biggest reform of the quarantine scheme since its introduction in January. It required that passengers on both domestic and foreign flights to wear masks. In addition, hotel workers receive regular screening, and ex-patriates had to submit a negative PCR result before boarding a repatriation flight.
In July, the Australian government imposed a 4000 limit on arrival number. However, it expanded it to 6,500 at the end of 2020 and then dropped it back to just over 4,000 in January 2021.
The Board of Airline Representatives of Australia (BARA) will support the rise in arrival caps. The body has made several contributions in favor of higher caps over the last few months. BARA reported that a total of 100,000 stranded Australians are attempting to return home. As a result of tight caps, many of BARA’s members had stopped selling tickets to stranded Australians.
More Quarantine Facilities
PM Morrison also addressed plans for another specific quarantine facility to be built in Toowoomba, Queensland. Morrison said: “We are still seeking a lot more information on that proposal, and the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has pulled together the various agencies that are needed to assess that proposal.”
Prime Ministers emphasized, “There is a lot more information we’re going to need before we can get to an assessment of how we go forward on that.”
Featured image: Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport. Photo: Daniel Gorun/Airways