When international borders closed at the start of the pandemic in March, tens of thousands of Australians living and traveling abroad thwarted their plans and began returning home, the government was told.
The first Australian wave of Covid-19 was mainly attributed to hordes of international arrivals, who were being tested positively during their stay in the mandatory hotel quarantine.
Six months after Scott Morrison urged citizens to return home, more than 25,000 Australians wanting to fly home are still stuck in countries around the world.
Then why can’t Australians overseas return home?
Are planes still flying to Australia?
Yes. Following serious disruptions to previously pandemic flight movements, planes carrying passengers and cargo have resumed flight to Australian cities.
Far fewer flights and airlines are coming in, in large part because of Australia’s strict ban on nationals leaving the country and restrictions on non-nationals coming for non-essential purposes, such as tourism.
But all the planes that land at Australian airports are quite capacity, with some flights carrying less than 30 passengers.
Why can’t vacancies be used?
International passenger arrival caps in Australia strictly limit how many people can enter the country.
Designed to ease pressure on state and territory-run hotel quarantine systems, arrival limits were agreed and implemented by the national cabinet in July and strengthened later that month.
The rulers of the states and territories claim their borders, based on what they think their quarantine system can take, and the borders are enforced by the commune, which controls the borders.
How many people can enter Australia?
The cap is set at about 4,000 per week. Sydney Airport receives the most international passengers, with 350 per day. Perth gets about 525 a week, while Brisbane and Adelaide get 500 each a week.
Canberra and Darwin can negotiate passenger limits on a flight by flight, while Melbourne is not accepting any international passengers as Victoria concentrates on containing its second wave of Covid-19.
What does this mean for Australians stranded overseas?
Restrictions mean that flights landing in Australia are on average limited to between 50 and 70 passengers.
Since the introduction of the shutters, the cost of flights to Australia has increased as airlines seek to cover the cost of running the service.
But even as desperate Australians return home pay tens of thousands of dollars for one-way flights, their tickets are constantly canceled, as airlines have to shorten their daily passenger lists every day to meet their limit.
While many Australians living abroad had booked their flights home before the shutters were inserted, while others have since left the country for short trips (providing exemptions from the compassionate exit ban), the shutters are creating a narrowing of Australians trying to fly back
Frustrated airlines have acknowledged that they are canceling economy and, increasingly, business class tickets so that they can prioritize higher paid customers to stay profitable. Some planes are flying with less than four economy passengers.
Some stranded Australians who have contacted the Guardian said their airline had told them their tickets could not be honored until 2021.
How many Australians are stuck overseas? And haven’t they ignored all the government advice to come home months ago?
More than 25,000 Australians have registered with the government as he wishes to return, but many have told the Guardian that they were not told about the census website and were not counted in government figures.
The organization representing airlines flying to Australia estimates that 100,000 Australians have either had their flights canceled at home or will cancel them before the end of the year as a result of the border. This estimate is based on ticket data provided by airlines.
Many of the stranded Australians were living outside at the start of the pandemic and point to government advice that said they should stay determined if they had a job and safe housing. As economies around the world have deteriorated, many have lost their jobs and now want to return.
Others have told the Guardian Australia that after hearing government advice to return home in March, they began selling their homes and ending rents, but by the time they had settled their affairs, tickets their were canceled.
There are also Australians who have left the country with valid exemptions, often out of compassion to visit sick relatives, and are trapped by lids. While many booked short overseas visits, they have found that their return tickets have been canceled unplanned again.
Who can fix this?
It depends on who you ask.
The federal government has so far asserted that lids are a matter for prime ministers and prime ministers, and it reviews the lids at national cabinet meetings every two weeks. On Sunday Home Secretary Peter Dutton said he would be happy to double the number of people tomorrow, but it was ultimately a decision for state leaders.
The Coalition has ignored Labors’s calls to set up federal quarantine structures similar to those used to repatriate Australians from Wuhan early in the pandemic, so it can quarantine larger groups of incoming Australians without having to rely on state leaders. to increase their lids.
No state leader has so far reported any increase in the borders since they were introduced.
How long will the matches last?
The lids last until October 24, but the national cabinet can extend them, or reduce or remove them, at any bi-weekly review.
What can Australians who are stuck abroad do?
They can register their own wish to return home to this government website.
The federal government has introduced a loan initiative to help Australians pay their living expenses while waiting for home flights and to help finance a more expensive home ticket. But loans have specific eligibility requirements and the government is advising stranded Australians to rely on their friends, family and local community organizations for financial assistance. Consular staff have also advised stranded Australians to start funding campaigns.