COVID-19: Australia adds 2,000 weekly international arrivals
Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced after today’s National Cabinet meeting that the states will work in stages to increase the number of international arrivals Australia accepts from 4,000 to 6,000 by mid-October. Morrison has also affirmed the need to return to having no capacity limits on arrivals as soon as practical.
On questioning, he said he hoped that all of the 24,000 Australians overseas who wanted to would be able to return by Christmas when he hopes all domestic borders will be open as well.
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New South Wales
NSW will take the lead by increasing its weekly receipt of international travellers to 3,000 as from 27 September. That’s an additional 500 per week. It currently accepts over 2,000 arrivals per week, more than any other state.
Other States – Western Australia and Queensland
Despite some resistance and requests for support from the Federal Government, Queensland and Western Australia have (reluctantly?) agreed to progressively increase the arrivals they acceptin stages from 25 September.
To achieve the increase, they have requested and been granted support from the Australian Defence Forces. Queensland is looking at taking an extra 200 in the next fortnight, with moves in October to take an additional 300 to add 500 in total.
Queensland will also open its border to internal arrivals from the ACT as of Friday 25 September.
New Zealand Corridor or Trans-Tasman Bubble
The PM said discussions were also moving on the creation of a ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ between New Zealand and Australia, if, like on the NZ South Island, cases are kept low. Such a bubble would allow Australians and New Zealanders to return home without needing to serve out 14 day in quarantine.
The Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk announced at her press conference today that airlines have now agreed to supply contact details for passengers to state governments. It’s not clear if they were resisting this, or merely did not have the information required.
The Prime Minister announced earlier in the day that:
“There will be mandatory data collection on domestic flights to assist states and territories when it comes to contact tracing when people are moving between states and territories.”
Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
“From 1 October, part of the mandatory manifest information will be name, email address, a mobile contact number, and a state of residence.”
The Prime Minister also confirmed that quarantining at home, as is done in the ACT, is an option discussed with the states. His view is:
“The ability to apply those sorts of arrangements to people coming from particular areas where there’s very, very, very low risk, well, they’re options that the states can look to do.”Scott Morrison, Australian Prime Minister
I think we are moving in the right direction, a little too slowly for my liking. However if the slowness of opening borders and receiving returning Australians is legitimately based on health grounds and states’ ability to administer hotel quarantine and not the political and electoral intentions of certain state premiers, then I am OK with the pace.
No talk of opening the borders for Australians who want to travel outside the country who do not fit under any of the exempted categories, like urgent business, compassion, etc. You know, the ones that just want to go on holiday, like me.
On the other hand, with an even worse second or third wave being predicted for France and Spain, and some concern about the UK – maybe I will stick to the continent of the great south land.