Australia to Halve International Arrivals Ceiling as Scott Morrison Unveils Four-Step Covid Exit Plan | Coronavirus


The number of international flight arrivals to Australia will be halved nationwide in a blow to Australians stranded abroad, as Scott Morrison tries to reassure the public that the federal government is working with states and territories on a plan to exit the Covid crisis.

The Prime Minister called on Australians to “get vaccinated” in order to “change the way we live as a country” – but he indicated that it could take until next year to reach the next stage of the plan. opening in four stages.

Cuts in international arrival caps aim to reduce pressure on hotel quarantine facilities and are in line with growing calls from a number of states – but this move was not the preferred approach of the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, nor Morrison.

Speaking after a meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday, Morrison said halving the caps wouldn’t necessarily prevent further infection control violations – but “it is believed to be prudent action “due to the increased virulence of the Delta variant.

This will see the weekly cap for international passenger arrivals in Australia drop from 6,070 to 3,035 by July 14. In those numbers, the Sydney arrivals ceiling – which accounts for about half of all arrivals in Australia – will drop from 3,010 to 1,505.

Morrison said executives wanted to “try to minimize disruption to people with already scheduled flights.” There are currently 34,000 Australians registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as wishing to return from abroad.

People arriving on federally organized flights to Australia and quarantining themselves for two weeks at the Howard Springs site in the Northern Territory are already outside the flight cap numbers, so these arrivals are not affected by the announcement.

Morrison said the federal government would seek to “increase” the number of people arriving on facilitated flights in the coming weeks, noting that there had been “a drop in demand” on these flights of late.

He admitted that the planned increase in the use of Howard Springs “may not fully improve the impact of the 50% reduction, especially outside Sydney” – but rejected the suggestion that it would “be a” drop in the ocean ”.

He praised NSW for their “extraordinary effort” in carrying half the load of returning Australians. He also said the government planned to “test and pilot with individual jurisdictions the introduction of alternative quarantine options, including home quarantine for vaccinated returning travelers.”

Morrison used the cabinet post-national press conference – his first since leaving home quarantine at the Canberra Lodge after his trip overseas – to try to give Australians a sense of hope for s ” move away from internal border blockages and closures, but not in the short term.

Amid mounting pressure on the federal government’s handling of the immunization rollout, Morrison said the national cabinet had discussed “a new deal for Australians today to bring us to the other side” of the pandemic.

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With large parts of Australia currently on lockdown and with vaccine coverage still low, he said there was “still a long way to go” and the nation was currently in the first of four stages, focused on elimination of community transmission.

Thresholds for moving to next steps would be based on vaccination rates, but the national cabinet has yet to agree on triggers.

The triggers would be based on scientific advice and expert models, Morrison said, not “political agreements.” He thought the government would be able by the end of this year to offer a vaccine to anyone who wanted it.

The second phase will focus on policies that seek to minimize serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid-19, rather than removing the number of daily cases overall.

In this phase, blockages “should only take place in extreme circumstances to avoid an escalation of hospitalizations and deaths”.

Morrison appealed to anyone hesitant to get a Covid-19 vaccine, saying he understood some people were wondering if they were more likely to be run over by a car than to catch the virus.

“In a sense, we are prisoners of our own success,” Morrison said. “If you get vaccinated, you change the way we live as a country. You can change the way you live in Australia.

While NSW reported 31 new cases of community transmission within 24 hours to 8 p.m. Thursday, Berejiklian said she had expressed the view to her fellow prime ministers and chief ministers that “it’s not because you reduce the number of people coming in as epidemics are it will not happen ”.

“My heart goes out to the thousands of Australians who have to wait longer to return home,” she said.

Morrison walked into the meeting amid the return of prime ministers on multiple fronts, including flight arrival caps and the state of the vaccination rollout, but ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said that there had been an “explosion of peace and harmony”.

As Guardian Australia has previously reported, state governments expressed confusion over Morrison’s comments on Monday night regarding access to the AstraZeneca vaccine for those under 40, as the Prime Minister did not explicitly point it out during of the national cabinet meeting beforehand.

GPs also criticized what they saw as confusing and contradictory statements.

Morrison denied on Friday that he was cowardly with his language on the matter. He said Atagi’s advice that Pfizer is preferred for those under 60 did not prevent young Australians from getting AstraZeneca if they spoke to their doctor.

He also said that the federal government had made the decision “to extend the MBS [Medicare Benefits Schedule] element to allow doctors to talk to their patients ”.

To date, the MBS elements for vaccine advice only apply to patients over the age of 50, but Health Minister Greg Hunt signaled on Tuesday that this will change to include those under the age of 50. 50 years.

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Hunt said the relevant MBS materials were extended to be available to all patients, regardless of age, “from June 29”.

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