National Cabinet has agreed to lift the capacity for international arrivals in four states, but hotel quarantine will continue to be mandatory – even for those who have been vaccinated for COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the National Cabinet’s decision at a press conference on Friday, saying that the return of Australian residents is still a priority.
International arrival caps will return to pre-8 January levels in NSW (430 per day) and Queensland (1,000 per week) from 12:01am on 15 February.
The cap in Victoria will increase from 1,120 to 1,310 arrivals per week, with the Prime Minister noting that additional increases will be considered; and South Australia’s cap will increase from 490 to 530 arrivals per week.
Morrison said the current cap in WA (512 per week) will remain in place, pending further review, due to a hotel quarantine worker recently testing positive for COVID-19 and forcing the state into a snap five-day lockdown.
National Cabinet has agreed that these arrangements for international passenger arrival caps will continue until 11:59pm on 30 April.
Australia’s PM also said the federal government was looking to further expand the capacity of the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory.
“Already expanding it to 850, and potentially well beyond that, which would involve a more than doubling of that capacity at Howard Springs,” Morrison said.
“We will also continue to assess the proposal in relation to Toowoomba. But, we are still seeking a lot more information on that proposal, and the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has pulled together the various agencies that need to assess that proposal.”
Morrison said the two-week hotel quarantine model will continue for returning Australians “until further notice”, with Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly adding that those who had already been vaccinated for COVID-19 will not be exempt.
“At the moment, that two-week quarantine in hotels as has been so successful up till now remains, regardless of vaccination,” he said.
Image source: ABC News