Most vulnerable’ Australians to be prioritised as India travel suspension ends
The travel suspension for Australians coming home from India will end as planned on May 15.
Scott Morrison said the first Australians to be able to return from India will be those deemed “most vulnerable” by the Australian High Commission in India after a meeting of National Cabinet today.
The flights will be handled by Australian crews and all passengers will be tested prior to departure.
“All of this is about sensibly preventing a third wave of COVID-19 here in Australia, and doing that responsibly while at the same time doing everything we can to sustainably bring Australians home from what is currently (the) most significant hot spot for those travelling into Australia of anywhere in the world right now,” Mr Morrison said.
The prime minister confirmed three flights from India will arrive in Australia once the temporary travel ban ends on May 15.
All three flights will land in the Northern Territory and passengers will quarantine at the Howard Springs facility.
Once the ban on travel from India ends on May 15, direct commercial flights will still be paused.
Instead, the Commonwealth has asked the states to accept additional repatriation flights and the quarantine measures that follow.
NSW, Victoria and Queensland have responded positively to the PM’s invitation.
“That biosecurity order is working exactly as it was intended to, and that will remain in place with no change until the 15th of May,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Newcastle.
“The National Security Committee of Cabinet has confirmed that it will have done its job by then, and as a result we see no need to extend it beyond that date.”
“There will be rapid antigen testing put in place for everyone getting on the flights,” he said.
“The challenge we have had with brief arrivals from India is the higher incident of infections and the stress that was placing on the quarantine system.”
Australian citizens and residents will still need to return a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight home from India.
“Rapid antigen testing is a requirement and a negative test to get on a border flight to Australia,” Mr Morrison said.
“I’m sure that’s what all Australians would expect.”
Mr Morrison confirmed that more than 2.5 million vaccine doses have now been delivered, 80,000 of which were done yesterday.
More than 10 per cent of the population aged over 16 has received their first dose.
“GPs are now accounting for well over half of the vaccination is done in Australia. Our GPs are doing an absolute Herculean job,” Mr Morrison said.