Sat. Sep 19th, 2020

There are about 27,000 Australians living overseas who want to come back home, but current rules limiting arrivals to just 4,000 per week are making that extremely difficult.

Since mid-March, more than 600,000 residents have returned, according to the latest data compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

For the latest news on the coronavirus pandemic read our live blog.

With some airlines cutting routes and jacking up prices, the Federal Government is considering further commercial options to bring stranded Australians home.

There are discussions about opening more quarantine facilities, but there is still no real indication of when — or how — more Australians will be able to come home.

Here is what we know about returning to Australia during the coronavirus pandemic.

Michael McCormack speaks in front of Mark Coulton and David Littleproud

Michael McCormack speaks in front of Mark Coulton and David Littleproud

Michael McCormack wants the cap on Australians arriving back in the country lifted.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

What is the current situation on the number of arrivals?

Australia’s National Cabinet, which is made up of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and premiers and chief ministers from every state and territory, agreed that caps on international passenger arrivals would be put in place to manage and maintain quarantine arrangements across jurisdictions.

Until October 24, the following limits are in place based on hotel quarantine capacity:

  • Sydney: 350 passenger arrivals per day
  • Perth: 525 passenger arrivals per week
  • Brisbane: 500 passenger arrivals per week
  • Adelaide: 500 passenger arrivals per week
  • Canberra, Darwin: passenger limits on each flight discussed on a case-by-case basis
  • Hobart, Melbourne: no international flights

These arrangements will continue to be reviewed by National Cabinet.

Australian citizens and permanent residents are banned from going overseas unless they have compassionate reasons or need to travel for work.

Could we let more Australians back into the country?

There’s definitely some debate happening on that topic.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says there are about 36,000 Australian residents living overseas, and more than 27,000 of them say they want to come home.

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.

Simon Birmingham says the Government wants to help bring stranded Australians home

This week, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said he had written to state and territory leaders requesting that the cap on international arrivals, which currently sits at about 4,000 people per week, be raised to 6,000 per week.

The Federal Government believes Australia’s coronavirus case load has now eased enough to allow more people into the country.

In particular, the Government wants Western Australia to take an extra 500 people per week.

However, on Wednesday, WA Premier Mark McGowan said he hadn’t received Mr McCormack’s letter, so he hadn’t been able to consider it.

Read more about coronavirus:

Which airlines are flying in to Australia and where are they coming from?

Some of the world’s biggest names in air travel are still landing at Australian airports, arriving from countries including the United States, Japan, China and Indonesia.

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

Below is a snapshot of the flights which have landed, or are scheduled to, this week, and their ports of origin.

Sydney

United Airlines – Los Angeles, San Francisco

China Airlines – Taipei, Taiwan

Xiamen Airlines – Xiamen, China

Qatar Airways – Doha, Qatar

Etihad Airways – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Emirates – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Japan Airlines – Tokyo, Japan

Delta Airlines – Los Angeles

Air India – Delhi, India

China Eastern Airlines – Shanghai, Hangzhou, China

Singapore Airlines – Singapore

Aircalin – Noumea

All Nippon Airways – Tokyo, Japan

Garuda Indonesia – Denpasar, Jakarta, Indonesia

Cathay Pacific Airways – Hong Kong

Air New Zealand – Auckland

Sri Lankan Airlines – Colombo, Sri Lanka

Perth

Emirates – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Singapore Airlines – Singapore

Adelaide

Singapore Airlines – Singapore

Qatar Airways – Doha, Qatar

Brisbane

China Airlines – Taipei, Taiwan

Qatar Airways – Doha, Qatar

Air New Zealand – Auckland

Nauru Airlines – Nauru

Air Niugini – Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Emirates – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Do returned travellers have to quarantine in a hotel?

Not according to Australia’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth.

He said while the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee set the policy for supervised quarantine, “where that specifically occurs does not necessarily need to be a hotel“.

Returning Australians risk losing seat

Cathy and Jim Collins from Tasmania have been trying to return home from the UK.

Cathy and Jim Collins from Tasmania have been trying to return home from the UK.

Australians returning from overseas on economy fares say airlines are cancelling their seats unless they upgrade to business class as international arrivals are reduced.

Read more

“It could be any one of a number of settings. But the principles under which that supervised quarantine would need to take place would be universal regardless of whether it was a hotel, whether it was a detention centre, whether it was Howard Springs in the Northern Territory, which as you might recall [housed] Australians who were on the Diamond Princess during the first wave,” he said.

“Infection-control procedures need to be excellent. The supervision needs to be excellent from people who are experienced and educated in being able to understand infection control.

“But where it’s enacted will be a matter for the state and territory governments.”

The WA Premier has flagged reopening Rottnest Island as a quarantine facility. In non-COVID times it is an internationally renowned holiday destination.

Should Scott Morrison use the RAAF to get everyone home?

Labor is calling on the Government to use VIP Royal Australian Air Force jets to ferry stranded Australians home, but the Coalition has branded the idea a “stunt”.

Australia’s busiest airport like you’ve never seen it before

An empty airport

An empty airport

Australia’s busiest airport has seen passenger numbers fall by 98 per cent, so what’s it like to travel as coronavirus turns the normally bustling terminals into ghost towns?

Read more

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said RAAF jets which are used to transport officials including the Prime Minister should be used to bring more Australians home each week.

But it’s not that easy and everything hinges on how many people the states can put up in quarantine, according to the Government.

Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram said he expected if the number of beds available in hotel quarantine increased, the availability of commercial flights would also increase.

He said the current cap on hotel quarantine, which was set by agreement of National Cabinet, meant about 12,000 beds were available at any one time.

There are lots of reasons why some Australians haven’t returned home sooner

Jennifer Roe holds her infant son as she stands next to her husband, who holds their daughter.

Jennifer Roe holds her infant son as she stands next to her husband, who holds their daughter.

Jennifer Roe and her family are stuck in the Netherlands during the coronavirus pandemic.(Supplied: Jennifer Roe)

Family ties, stable employment or just the sheer time it takes to pack up a life overseas are among the reasons why some Aussies haven’t made it home yet.

The ABC has spoken to a number of Australians over the past few months who all have various reasons as to why they are still living outside their home country.

Some of them have had flights repeatedly cancelled and have been told they will have to pay for business class tickets to ensure a seat on a plane.

In one example, the Roe family headed to Amsterdam in January for a year-long stint, and a month later, baby Jackson was born.

An application for a birth certificate was lodged on April 9.

His parents only received the certificate on July 20, and as of late July he didn’t have a passport, so the family couldn’t travel.

“We knew he’d be stateless before he was born, but obviously we couldn’t plan for COVID-19 and know that we would need to travel with him so soon,” mum Jennifer said.

What you need to know about coronavirus:

By Editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *