NSW has made a major change to allowed international arrivals and it is bad news for those wanting to return to Australia.
After criticizing states, including Queensland, for lowering their limits on international arrivals, NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian has said her state will halve the number of return travelers.
The federal government has agreed to halve the number of overseas arrivals in NSW, with a new limit of 750 people allowed to return to Sydney each week until the state’s vaccination targets are met. The new cap will take effect from next week and is expected to last until October.
NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian revealed the bad news for those looking to return to Australia overseas, but insisted she hoped all Australians would be allowed to return by Christmas.
For that to happen, the vaccination rate must be 80 percent. NSW is expected to reach its first target of 70 percent of fully vaccinated people by mid-October.
“While 70 percent double dose gives us vaccinated freedoms, 80 percent double dose allows us to watch international travel and welcome all Australians,” said Ms Berejiklian.
“How wonderful it would be to welcome back all the Aussies who want to be reunited with their families at Christmas and NSW will stand up to support that cause and cause and I stress to everyone the importance of vaccination.”
Sydney Airport currently has 13 passenger flights and 18 cargo flights a day. International arrivals from NSW were cut from around 3,000 to 1,505 a week last month, in line with a cut in limits across the country.
“I think we’ve been offered to reduce half of what we have now to half, and that’s what we’ve accepted for next month. So we’re doing half of our current international arrivals,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“But of course we hope to pick that up again once we get to those high vaccination rates.”
Barry Abrams, head of Australia’s Council of Airlines, told the Australian Financial Review that any cut in passenger limits sparked fear among stranded Australians and airlines struggled to rearrange capacity.
“Ultimately, halving the already very small number to Sydney, to around 107 passengers per day, will mean nothing to the financial viability of flights. However, it will cause stress and grief for passengers now bumping into it,” he said.
The NSW outbreak, which had seen 21,108 cases Tuesday, was sparked by an unvaccinated, unvaccinated Sydney limousine driver who was believed to have been infected by a foreign flight crew he had driven to a hotel.
According to the national reopening plan, based on the Doherty Institute models, the influx of returning travelers could return to normal levels once 70 percent of people over 16 are fully vaccinated. For NSW this would be 3000 people per week.
Prime Minister Scott Morrisons has said Australians will not be allowed to travel abroad until 80 per cent of people over 16 have been fully vaccinated and has not said that the fully vaccinated people could then be quarantined from home to ease the pressure on hotels.
Aussies have been banned from leaving the country for vacations since March 2020, and anyone returning will have to pay up to $2800 for two weeks of hotel quarantine.
Based on current rates, the government expects to reach that target by mid-November, although experience abroad indicates that vaccination rates are slow to rise above 60 percent when the supply of people eager to get a shot has disappeared and all that remains is the reluctant and ambivalent .
Arrivals can be quarantined at home for seven days or enter without any quarantine if they come from a highly vaccinated travel bubble country like the US, UK and Singapore.
“I share people’s frustration with that, but what’s the answer? We have to go to home quarantine,” he said. “The answer to future quarantine is basically home quarantine for Australians and as far as we continue to quarantine in the future, that’s what we need for international travellers.
In early July, Mr Morrison said home quarantine should be safer than hotel quarantine, as no interaction with staff is required, but there is a risk that people will not observe it.