Australian quarantine capacity expanded to repatriate citizens stranded overseas_china

A man at an airport with a suitcase

The deal means flights could begin as early as next week

The decision will give thousands of people now stuck overseas the chance to come home and quarantine in the Howard Springs facility, 25 kilometres south of Darwin.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a plan to repatriate tens of thousands of citizens stranded overseas amid the coronavirus pandemic. The arrangement could be extended if necessary.

Each flight will take 175 passengers, all excluded from the 5,000 weekly global arrivals cap now in place in Australia.

The Australian government has recruited flag-carrier Qantas to operate a series of eight repatriation flights from London, Delhi, and Johannesburg.

Meanwhile, the first flight from New Zealand under a one-way travel passage landed in Sydney on Friday carrying 230 people. Each flight will carry 175 passengers.

Passengers arriving from South Africa will not be quarantined at Howard Springs.

To get back home from Johannesburg is slightly more affordable, at AU$1,750 ($1,240), and from New Delhi cheaper still at AU$1,500 ($1,060).

Flights from New Delhi will depart on October 25, November 9, November 23 and November 27.

It's expected that will allow an additional 5000 Australians to return home in that time.

"But my question is, will the flight bookings work on a lottery system or will some Australian government department decide who gets to travel first?" Families will be charged AU$5,000 ($3,540).

"That would give us, roughly, over that period of time, given the two-week quarantine period plus the cleansing of the facility in between groups coming through of around about 5,000 people over that period of time", he said.

"Deb Tellis, who is stranded in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru and has been trying to return to Australia since June says she is 'gingerly optimistic" about today's announcement.

"But the good news is of the around about just over 4000 Australians who are identified and DFAT identified as vulnerable on 18 September, just over a quarter of those have now been able to return to Australia".

Around 398,000 Australians have returned to Australia since 13 March when border restrictions were first imposed.

At the front of the line to come home will be Australians the Federal Government considers to be "vulnerable".

Today Qantas confirmed it would be operating eight services to bring Australians home.

"The flight got cancelled at the last minute and I am still awaiting a refund from Air India four months later".

Mr Morrison said planning around the return of global travel to Australia, which has been banned since March due to COVID-19, was in early stages.

The Qantas flights are scheduled to depart London on October 19, November 4 and November 8.

"The Chief Health Officer here in Queensland has a different view to that and they have a more stringent definition", he said. Check your state's restrictions on gathering limits.

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