Australia will reduce flights from India, which is seeing a surge in covid cases, and will also limit Australians who need to go there to “only very urgent cases”.
Some flights are coming in from India to Darwin, under special arrangements, as well as to Sydney. There are more than 34,000 Australians overseas who want to come back, including from India.
“What we have agreed to do, and this particularly relates to the chartered services we’re running into the Northern Territory, we will be reducing by some 30 per cent the numbers coming through our chartered services in the months ahead,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“We will also be limiting the departure exceptions for Australians travelling to high-risk countries … to India.
“So those who may have been going for family events such as weddings or sadly funerals, these were things that were restricted in Australia for Australians, in this country.
“There are some exemptions that are provided in these circumstances, and we’ll be instructing the Border Force to ensure only very urgent circumstances would an exemption be permitted for someone to travel to a high-risk country.”
Flights coming into Sydney from India will be cut by 30 per cent. Australians already need an exemption to go abroad and can only go for a small list of reasons.
“There are many countries in the world, the Prime Minister was talking about India, that is in very serious situations with COVID and the risk of COVID importation and outbreak in Australia is ever present,” Chief Health Minister, Brendan Murphy said.
High risk countries not yet finalised
Mr Morrison said a list of high risk countries could be identified soon.
“To give you an idea about high risk countries, the UK, who allows people to enter, have got a list of red list countries that only residents, only citizens can return from,” he said.
“While we’re not adopting that list, it gives you somewhat of an idea of the type of approach we’ll be seeking to put in place from those high risk countries.
“The chief medical officer working with others and DFAT will be seeking to put a list of high risk countries in place.”
The PM has been asked about the flights being cut, despite thousands of expats still trapped in India.
India is one of the main countries Aussies are stuck, including dual citizens.
Everybody who returns has to do strict hotel quarantine, but he said there has been an increase in people with the virus arriving in Australia from India.
“It reflects that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic that is raging,” he said.