Due to the increased risk posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19, the country’s National Cabinet decided on July 2nd to cut the limit on international arrivals from 6,070 to 3,035 a week. The cap reduces the pressure on Australia’s quarantine system, which requires travellers to quarantine in hotels for 14 days. The reduction is part of the first stage of the four-step plan that Prime Minister Scott Morrison hopes will eventually see Australia treating COVID-19 “like the flu”.
With the cap reduction expected to be in place for the rest of the year and 34,000 Australian nationals stranded overseas, there has been considerable backlash from overseas Australians. Yet fears over a spike in cases in Sydney have motivated Morrison to support the more stringent limit.
Expect the cap to place pressure on airlines to cover fees, causing carriers to bump up fares. Passengers with economy airfares will likely be cancelled first leaving only those with business class fares a guaranteed flight home. Additionally, whilst the government will likely work to fund more repatriation flights to the Howard Springs quarantine centre, anticipate the cap to remain in place regardless of case numbers. Thus, expect the government to continue to prioritize reduced domestic restrictions over returning Australians home in the short-to medium-term.
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