More Australians stranded abroad could soon be allowed to return home after state and territory leaders agreed the cap on international arrivals should be lifted.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement following a national cabinet meeting on Friday, flagging Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, Canberra and Tasmania could all potentially be taking in more Australians returning home.
“On international arrivals, it was agreed that we needed to further boost the capacity for inbound arrivals into Australia, particularly for those Australians seeking to come home,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“What I got agreement out from those other states and territories today was that they would be open, and work with us to take further flights in those places if we can get the planes to fly there.”
Mr Morrison said NSW was doing the “heavy lifting” in taking most of the arrivals into hotel quarantine and there was discussion to see if more people could be shifted to Perth, Adelaide, Darwin, the ACT, and Tasmania.
“We want to get more Australians home. And we need to do that safely as well, and not compromise the quarantine arrangements we have here as well,” Mr Morrison said.
Since July, only 4,000 people have been allowed to return to Australia each week after national cabinet set the cap in a bid to ease demands on the hotel quarantine system.
Many Australians who have been stuck overseas for months and wanting to come home were hoping for an easing of the limit.
However, after Friday’s national cabinet meeting, it remains unclear by how much the cap could be lifted.
At least 23,000 Australians are registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) seeking to return home, with more than 3,000 of those classified as being ‘vulnerable’ for health or financial reasons.