Australians abroad will find it harder to come home amid the coronavirus pandemic after Scott Morrison announced he is slashing the number of international flights.
“It will be more difficult because there will be a reduction in the available capacity for people to be coming back to Australia. That is the consequence of this decision today by the National Cabinet,” the PM announced during a press conference on Friday afternoon.
The number of Australians returning home will be cut by more than half to 4,000 people per week, Mr Morrison said.
The decision will ease the pressure on hotel quarantine systems around the country, officials hope.
“The decision to reduce the number at this time was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks. We will review that as the weeks go by but for now, that is where we have reduced it,” he said.
Returning residents will also be made to pay for mandatory two-week stays in hotel quarantine.
"Where possible, we will seek to have some sort of national uniformity across those pricings," Mr Morrison said in Canberra.
Queensland charges $2800 per person for returning travellers in hotel quarantine.
Minutes before Victoria confirmed another 288 new coronavirus cases, Mr Morrison called the state’s outbreaks “very concerning”.
Former health department secretary Jane Halton will lead a review of hotel quarantine after breaches in Victoria's system fanned infection rates.
National cabinet also reaffirmed support for Victoria as Melbourne deals with a concerning outbreak.
Victorians told to wear mask to protect from coronavirus
Victorians are being encouraged to wear masks, and even make their own, to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in the state.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly on Friday reiterated federal advice that residents in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire wear masks if they have symptoms and when social distancing cannot be maintained.
"Assuming that people do need to go out, what has not changed is if people have symptoms and they need to go for a test, for example, which we would definitely encourage, they should wear a mask," Prof Kelly said.
"Other people, where physical distancing cannot be guaranteed, they should also wear a mask in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire."
‘We are all at risk’ of coronavirus infection
Everyone is at risk of being infected with coronavirus unless Victoria’s community transmission is stopped, Prof Kelly warned during the press conference.
“We can see what happens very quickly this incredibly infectious virus. It can spread throughout the community and unless we're taking note of those very simple but effective ways of stopping that transmission, then we are all at risk.
“So we are all in this together, we know that what we need to do,” he said.
Prof Kelly said he has seen differences between the state’s first and second peaks.
“This increase in cases, particularly locally acquired cases, are a concern,” he said, adding that many more young people had been affected by the virus the second time around.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.