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Australia keeps international arrivals cap

written by Adam Thorn | August 7, 2020

Boeing 737 800 at YMML Victor Pody
VH-VZE, a Boeing 737 800, at YMML (Victor Pody)

Australia’s cap limiting passenger flights into the country will continue, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed.

The decision was taken after a meeting of the national cabinet, comprised of all state leaders, where it was also decided that Victoria’s hotel quarantine program would remain suspended.

The restrictions were introduced at the start of July to ease pressure on the country’s government isolation facilities after some blamed apparent breaches in Victoria for causing a second wave of COVID-19 cases.

PM Morrison also took time to thank those working at hotel quarantine facilities for going to “a lot of effort” to make the experience positive for returning citizens.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews confirmed his own program would remain halted.


“Those Victorians or others who might have flown home through Victoria, and there’s more than 20,000 of these people that were part of our hotel quarantine program, that’s not running anymore,” Premier Andrews said.

Speaking in July when the cap on number returning to Australia was introduced, the Prime Minister said there would always be “capacity” for people to return home.

“There will be continuing access to Australia but the number of available positions on flights will be less and I don’t think that is surprising or unreasonable in the circumstances,” PM Morrison said.

“The decision that we took to reduce the number of returned travellers to Australia at this time was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and [contact] tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks.”

He added that the reason the government was asking airlines to reduce seats was that the country can’t technically turn away citizens at the border.

The move came into effect from mid-July and was followed shortly after by plans to charge those returning for their hotel accommodation.

NSW and South Australia now charge Australians returning home from abroad $3,000 to stay in hotel quarantine, while Queensland ask for $2,800.

The fee includes meals and Australians are not asked to cover the cost of security, transport or logistics.

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Comments (14)

  • Darren


    Creating a laborious solution then complaining you don’t have the man power sounds like it’s time to look at other solutions…
    Change from hotel incarceration to home quarantine with geo-tracking bracelets (like Hong Kong) then people can start travelling again!

  • Astrid


    Absolutely ridiculous. Hotel quarantine is not the problem nor fixing anything. I agree with Darren, home quarantine is the much better option, making perfect sense to everyone else it seems. We live in 2020 – you can track people’s movement in a radius of 5 metres. How come they keep fixing a bad idea? It makes me question their ability to deal with a difficult situation, without just making it more complicated than necessary. I have been visiting my very ill mother in Germany and had to leave my young son and partner behind to go on that trip. Now wanting to come back home, my second return flight has been canceled due to capping international arrivals again, saying the hotels having too much trouble. AUSTRALIA, LET US QUARANTINE AT HOME, I AM SO HAPPY TO WEAR A TRACKING BRACELET.

  • Sam


    This is shit government both state and federal. They made wrong decisions and now Australian citizen arrivals have to suffer what a shit government we have.

  • Ethan


    This is absolutely bull, and the air lines taking advantage by pressuring to buy business class ticket
    Our government is shit government to stop its own citizens from coming back home. You don’t see this in any other country in the world. It is just shows despite all the bull shits hearing from our government how stupid and fragile there system is.
    My flight been canceled for the 4th time since 12 of July had enough.

  • ann


    quarantine is designed to keep diseases and pests out the virus is well and truly in and was introduced and extensively spread in March when thousands of passengers many known cases, from four cruise ships, including Ruby Princess, docked and disembarked and allowed to return homes across Australia without quarantine. The rabbits were out of the bag and super spread the virus, slowed during the hot weather and in waiting for winter because coronavirus are seasonal. The original sin by ScoMo that he has created a smoke and mirror distraction to the failed hotel quarantine system, really a tax and cash injection to the hotel industry he destroyed.

  • Stewart


    I’ll add my voice here too if that’s OK. My fight home was cancelled with the whole airline stopping all flights into Australia until 25th October, and I’m sure they won’t start flying again if this silly government decides to extend the cap system. I am now totally at sea as to my options. Any ticket, even a $9000 one way ticket is not guaranteed to either fly or actually take me. I haven’t travelled for pleasure – we are not allowed to and that’s understandable. So I assume the majority of Australians overseas have had government approved reasons for travelling and it’s not because they wanted a “clubMed break”.. But their response to this situation does not appear to acknowledge the consequences. And these politicians are not brainless – they must KNOW that these things are happening, that these things would be an OBVIOUS consequence, and so to say it’s OK that we have to wait, pay exorbitant prices, extend visas for extra time in a country, pay for more accomodation and day to day living, miss out on work and NOT CONTRIBUTE back to the Australian economy, and all this without mentioning the stress of uncertainty personally and for family or loved ones, is neglectful. I think they are either lazy, too interested in their own image or both. I jst wonder what happens at these cabinet meetings…. they probably have representatives of hotels to say they want this system continued as it’s good for them and other voices are drowned out??? Who knows, but none of this makes sense. If there were genuinely valid reasons for this it would be more understandable. But all I can fathom is it’s a response to the Victorian outbreak. Well persecute those responsible, don’t persecute al of us. this is Draconian, unimaginative, lazy, and ultimately highly damaging for the whole country in terms of expense of running the quarantine system and in loss of people getting back to work – yes I do have work…as i’m sure many do… highly disgruntled and totally disillusioned with our government.

    • Adam Thorn


      Thanks for your comment Stewart.

      I hear you – I personally don’t agree with this argument of “well people had time to get back before” because it’s not always that simple. What if you had to leave for a funeral, or if you got made redundant or you were waiting for ticket prices to go down?

      There are so many people falling through the cracks right now.

      Thanks for your comment and best of luck getting home.


  • Tony


    It seems because of bureaucrats, minions and minders running the show that nobody can think outside the box! Self isolate at home and utilise technology (leg bracelets etc) to ensure compliance. If anybody else is at home with you, all have to isolate too otherwise back to a hotel for you! I feel for the expats overseas like in the UAE who have been turfed out of their jobs and can’t get home. Seems Australia’s public servants are happy to impose draconian rules then sit back and wait to see what happens next whilst getting paid well!

  • joe


    It is really a mess! I ve not seen any country doing this. Is it a dictatorship 9000+ 3000 quarantine cost. is it a punishement for Australians that are out?

  • joe


    This is not acceptable till 24 October extendable!

  • Steve


    Australian & State Governments, STOP messing with people’s lives, livelihoods and human rights. STOP treating Australians abroad like pariahs as an excuse for your own mismanaged entry systems and infection control failures. Drop the hotel quarantine masquerade and implement home quarantine with tracking. If the UK Government tried to do what you have done to its citizens there would be anarchy and would be voted out next election. We Australian citizens abroad are taxpayers and voters, so wake up or you could face an embarrasing class action or worse.

  • Andre


    Can someone please just get this situation fixed. It doesn’t make any sense and is causing myself, my 2yr old daughter, my family and countless others unnecessary pain, heartbreak and sorrow. Why? Can we not just work it out?

  • Sheree


    It’s a joke we can’t get back into our own country. I had to leave as my parent was gravely ill and has since passed away and now I can’t get back. My flight has been cancelled and all other flights 3 weeks + from the one I booked is more than double the price. The airline have told me that all flights are cancelled are from 25 October which I don’t believe as last week there were plenty of flights each day. How can they do this? If we were somebody ie in the music industry or film industry we would get into the country no problems at all. One rule for some and another rule for others

  • Charlotte Andreasen


    I wonder if any of the politicians, who made this insane suggestion to imprison people for 14 days, have actually gone through an isolation like this in a hotel????? If not, how do you know what you are asking your own people to do!

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