Australia, on Friday (Sept. 18), said that it would ease the border restrictions to increase the number of citizens allowed to return home each week to 6,000 as the COVID-19 situation is currently under control.
Scott Morrison, Australia’s Prime Minister, said his administration would increase the number of citizens allowed to return home to 6,000 each week.
After a cabinet meeting on Friday, Morrison spoke to reporters that states have agreed to increase quarantine capacity and that the limit on the number of people admitted to Australia weekly will be increased by 2,000 through mid-October.
The country’s weekly limit is currently 4,000 people.
Morrison said the caps will be “staged” increasing, with New South Wales welcoming an additional 500 arrivals through Monday, while Queensland and Western Australia will initially accept 200 per week before adding another 300 later.
“This will give these states additional time to take the quarantine arrangements,” he said in Sydney.
The Prime Minister said an estimated 24,000 stranded Australians want to return, which the government has pledged to ease before Christmas.
“With the success we’ve had as a country over the past few months, we can open up again and help Australians get home,” he added.
Australia is also looking to relax quarantine restrictions on returning travelers from New Zealand, who have effectively eradicated the virus and are making up 15 percent of returns, to open up hotels to other travelers, Morrison said.
Australia closed its international borders early in the coronavirus pandemic and imposed strict bans and social distancing measures, drastically reducing the spread of the virus. There is currently a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for all international arrivals.
As the number of infections in the country slows, the state of Queensland said it would open its border to residents of the capital, Canberra, which had no new infections in 10 weeks, to encourage domestic tourism.
Queensland has not registered any local infections in eight days, said Deputy Prime Minister Steven Miles.
“Now it is good for people from Canberra, Queensland to come. The time has come and we urge them to consider coming to Queensland for a vacation.”
Victoria recorded 45 new cases and five deaths overnight, the highest number in more than a week, after 28 new cases on Thursday, the lowest number in three months.
The rolling two-week average of new infections in Victoria has fallen, raising hopes that tough lockdown measures confining residents to their homes can be eased before October 26.
Average cases over the past two weeks in Melbourne, the state’s largest city, fell below 50 this week, the benchmark the state has set to loosen the curbs.