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

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Scott Morrison announces major changes to international travel – and it’s good news for stranded Aussies and permanent residents

  • Stranded Aussies may be able to come home as caps on overseas arrivals raised
  • Scott Morrison announced that the limits on arrivals will be lifted on February 15
  • Ceiling on international arrivals have returned to levels they were at previously
  • The PM also said once most people are vaccinated, Covid will be like the flu 

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 

Scott Morrison has also declared that Covid-19 vaccines will allow the country to return to normal. 

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

Mr Morrison also said when Covid-19 is made less deadly by the jabs it will be considered like the flu, which does not require restrictions to maintain. 

‘Once you get to that stage, the number of cases isn’t the issue,’ Mr Morrison told reporters after a National Cabinet meeting.

‘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.’

Mr Morrison said while other viruses are still deadly for some vulnerable people, they are managed differently to Covid because they can be vaccinated against.    

‘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. 

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

The government plans to offer everyone living in Australia a jab by October this year.   

The Prime Minister said the vaccines will mean that lockdowns will not be needed if a case is identified, such as recent lockdowns in Brisbane and Perth over one case.  

‘Three months from now when vaccinations are occurring, where there is a downward pressure on the risk of serious illness, then the risk is different,’ Mr Morrison said. 

The Prime Minister said he is considering expanding the Howard Springs quarantine facility (pictured)

The Prime Minister said he is considering expanding the Howard Springs quarantine facility (pictured)

The Prime Minister also said he is considering expanding the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory and setting up another one in Toowoomba in Queensland. 

He suggested his preference was to expand workers camp Howard Springs.

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

‘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.’

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