Australian states raise overseas arrival caps – paving way for stranded Aussies to return home

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Australian states raise overseas arrival caps – paving way for stranded Aussies to return home

Caps on overseas arrivals to Australia will be returned to higher levels later in the month, paving the way for more citizens and permanent residen

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Caps on overseas arrivals to Australia will be returned to higher levels later in the month, paving the way for more citizens and permanent residents to come home.

National cabinet has agreed to lift the limits on February 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday.

The numbers were temporarily halved after new strains of coronavirus emerged in the UK and South Africa.

Caps on overseas arrivals to Australia will be returned to higher levels later in the month, paving the way for more citizens and permanent residents to come home. Pictured: Passengers arriving at Sydney International Airport Jan 19, 2021

Caps on overseas arrivals to Australia will be returned to higher levels later in the month, paving the way for more citizens and permanent residents to come home. Pictured: Passengers arriving at Sydney International Airport Jan 19, 2021

National cabinet has agreed to lift the limits on February 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday. Pictured: Australian residents returning from India at Sydney International Airport in May 2020

National cabinet has agreed to lift the limits on February 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday. Pictured: Australian residents returning from India at Sydney International Airport in May 2020

New South Wales will return to a cap of about 3000 people a week, while Queensland is reverting to 1000.

Victoria will increase its weekly hotel quarantine capacity to 1310 and SA has agreed to take 530 people a week.

The federal government is also investigating doubling capacity of the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory from its current level of 850. 

Victoria will increase its weekly hotel quarantine capacity to 1310 and SA has agreed to take 530 people a week. Pictured: Charles Darwin University foreign students arriving in Darwin in November 30, 2020

Victoria will increase its weekly hotel quarantine capacity to 1310 and SA has agreed to take 530 people a week. Pictured: Charles Darwin University foreign students arriving in Darwin in November 30, 2020 

The news was declared in a press conference today, where Scott Morrison has declared Covid-19 vaccines will allow the country to return to normal. 

The prime minster said the vaccines are extremely effective at reducing severe disease, meaning the number of coronavirus cases will not matter when most people are vaccinated.  

When Covid-19 is made less deadly by the jabs, then it can be considered like flu and other viruses which do not require lockdowns and social distancing, he said. 

‘Once you get to that stage, the number of cases isn’t the issue. I mean, we don’t stand up every day and talk about the number of cases of any other virus, flu or others, every day. 

‘That’s not to say that those viruses don’t result in ultimately fatality for vulnerable people either. They do. But we manage that a different way to the way we’re currently managing this pandemic,’ Mr Morrison told reporters after a National Cabinet meeting.

‘So, the point is that the vaccination program, over months, as it’s rolled out, can change the nature of how Australia then manages the virus,’ he explained.

‘It’s less then about cases as it is about presentations at ICU or seeking significant treatment.’ 

The numbers were temporarily halved after new strains of coronavirus emerged in the UK and South Africa. Pictured: Scott Morrison announced the caps being lifted on January 5

The numbers were temporarily halved after new strains of coronavirus emerged in the UK and South Africa. Pictured: Scott Morrison announced the caps being lifted on January 5

There are currently only nine people in hospital with Covid-19 in Australia, and no-one in intensive care. 

Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines which Australia plans to roll out in March are 100 per cent effective at reducing severe disease. 

The government plans to offer everyone living in Australia an optional jab by October.  

The prime minister said the vaccines will mean that lockdowns are not needed when a case is identified. Brisbane and Perth have recently had severe lockdowns over only one case.

‘Right now, a breakout of a case has a particular context. Three months from now, when vaccinations are occurring, where there is a downward pressure on the risk of serious, serious illness, then the risk is different. And so it is about trying to recalibrate,’ Mr Morrison said. 

The prime minister said he is considering expanding the Howard Springs quarantine facility

The prime minister said he is considering expanding the Howard Springs quarantine facility

The prime minister said he is considering expanding the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory and set up a new facility in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane as 40,000 Australians are stranded overseas due to arrival caps. 

He suggested his preference was to expand Howard Springs, a workers camp in the Northern Territory. 

‘There may be a lot more capacity up in Howard Springs and that may prove an effective way to do that. 

‘Given that you’re bringing in charter flights and you’re adding to an existing facility in an existing place, you’re not adding new areas of health risk where you’ve been able to demonstrate you can maintain and manage that risk,’ he said.

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