Federal government closes India travel loophole after Aussie cricketers return home

Federal government closes India travel loophole after Aussie cricketers return home

The government has closed a loophole that allowed those stuck in India to return to Australia via Doha.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison paused all direct flights between Australia and India last week, with the ban expected to last two weeks.

However, according to ABC News, two Aussie cricketers were able to return from India via a Qatar Airways flight which had a stopover in Doha on Thursday afternoon.

The airline told the national broadcaster that at the time, passengers only needed relevant documents and proof of a negative COVID-19 test, taken 48 hours before arrival in Doha.

A spokesperson from Qatar Airways told Travel Weekly the airline no longer sells tickets between Australia and India.

“We can confirm that Qatar Airways does not currently sell tickets from India to Australia via Qatar and we are not carrying passengers on this route,” the spokesperson said.

“We remain in close contact with the relevant Australian authorities to maintain the compliance required with the current restrictions on passenger arrivals from India.”

In an interview with 2GB, the Prime Minister said the government had dealt with the issue.

“We’ve already directly dealt with the airlines in Qatar. And so those transit passengers, the airlines advises, are no longer coming through from Doha,” he said.

“We got the additional information, we took that action and I proposed to take further action today, which would be done under the Biosecurity Act.”

To close the loophole, the government added to the Biosecurity Act on 30 April a ban on those who had been in India within 14 days from entering Australia.

Those who fail to comply with the restriction will be hit with fines of up to $66,600 or five years in prison or both.

India has been reporting more than 300,000 new cases of COVID-19 every day for the past week. The total number of cases in India is now close to 19 million and more than 200,000 people have died.

The ban has copped backlash from many advocacy groups, including the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).

“The travel ban on Australian citizens returning from India, accompanied by criminal sanctions under the Biosecurity Act, raises serious human rights concerns,” AHRC said in a statement.

“The need for such restrictions must be publicly justified. The government must show that these measures are not discriminatory and the only suitable way of dealing with the threat to public health.”

The Universal Society of Hinduism has also condemned the announcement, labelling it “barbaric”.

The organisation’s president, Rajan Zed, has urged the Australian government to “show some maturity and immediately withdraw this questionable and irresponsible decree”.

Zed said the ban appeared to make some Australian citizens “stateless” and said Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt should issue a formal apology.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended the “drastic” measures.

“We have taken drastic action to keep Australians safe, and what we face in India is a very serious situation where the medical advice provided to the federal government has been to put in place these strict measures,” he said.

“The situation in India is dire. It is very serious.”

Following consultation with the Indian government, Australia has agreed to provide emergency medical supplies, with the initial package including more than 1,000 non-invasive ventilators and the capacity to deploy up to a total of 3,000 ventilators.

The government has offered to supply a significant package of personal protective equipment (PPE), including one million surgical masks, 500,000 P2/N95 masks, 100,000 surgical gowns, 100,000 goggles, 100,000 pairs of gloves and 20,000 face shields.

Featured image source: YouTube/ABC News

Email the Travel Weekly team at traveldesk@travelweekly.com.au

    Latest comments
    1. What documents beside the covid negative test is required by airlines. It must be known that an Australian Travel Declaration from the department of Home Affairs must be applied for 72 hours before travel back to Australian. The application requires flight details and flight numbers. It is done online and is collected by a third party on behalf of the Home affairs department. If all flight numbers are entered and transit points this loophole would not happen. After many arriving with Covid negative and then testing positive the ” system is not working” as quoted by the WA premier during the last lockdown. Indicating that the covid testing in India is “dodgy”. Quarantine blunders and breeches would be minimized.

australia biosecurity act COVID-19 doha india India travel ban qatar airways scott morrison

Latest News

  • Aviation

Solomon Airlines fills Air Vanuatu gap with flights from Port Vila to Auckland

Solomon Islands’ national carrier will commence direct flights between Port Vila and Auckland from 27 May, using Solomon Airlines aircraft to continue air services linking Vanuatu and New Zealand. Solomon Islands officials together with the Vanuatu Government has worked closely with relevant New Zealand authorities to continue interim flights servicing Auckland from Port Vila. This included […]

  • Aviation

Board Air Canada in Sydney’s CBD via a sleek Light Rail

Visitors flocking to Vivid Sydney will glide through the CBD in the newest addition to the Air Canada fleet – a sleek Light Rail tram wrapped in the airline’s unique livery. The Air Canada-themed tram is part of a new marketing campaign designed to put Air Canada in lights during the Vivid Sydney festival (25 […]

  • Cruise
  • News

Carnival Splendor to the rescue of Aussies and Kiwis left stranded in Vanuatu

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor has come to the aid of a group left stranded in Vanuatu, following the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The group, eight Australians and one New Zealander, were visiting the island of Santo when Air Vanuatu cancelled all flights, leaving them without a way home. Carnival Cruise Line responded by offering […]

  • Hotels

QT Singapore set to open in heritage Eastern Extension Telegraph building

Bookings open today for QT Singapore, in the historic former Eastern Extension Telegraph building along Robinson Road, the first property from QT Hotels & Resorts to open outside Australian and New Zealand. Previously Accor’s So Singapore, then the Hotel Telegraph, QT Singapore will officially launch on September 16 and will feature 134 rooms, ranging in […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Minor Hotels’ Anantara group reimagines the brand as its portfolio surpasses 50 properties

Anantara Hotels & Resorts is marking a significant milestone with a reimagined brand identity as recent openings across Europe, Middle East and Asia have propelled the brand portfolio beyond 50 properties. Part of the Minor Hotels group, the Anantara visual refresh takes an elegant, pared-back approach that enables each hotel’s unique character to shine – […]