Tasmania to help virus repatriation

Ethan James
·2-min read

Tasmania is the latest state to join the national effort to repatriate Australians stranded overseas due to COVID-19.

A day after reopening to NSW following a seven-month closure, it was announced on Saturday the island state would provide quarantine spots for 450 people.

Three flights are expected to touch down between now and the end of the year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the federal government was looking to increase capacity at airports on the mainland.

"But what this is demonstrating, is that we know we need to supplement that," he said in Hobart.

"We have no doubt that we have the ability to keep expanding that and do more there, perhaps sooner, to fit in with the broader plan."

The Commonwealth will provide defence force support for Tasmanian airports.

The additional capacity is on top of the 6315 weekly quarantine spaces currently agreed to by states and territories.

More than 411,000 Australians have returned since March, around 30,600 of them with federal assistance.

The weekend announcement came as Victoria recorded an eighth consecutive day of no new virus cases.

The state government has started an enforcement blitz targeting workplaces amid reports from businesses and workers that rules aren't being followed.

Compliance checks will be undertaken by police, work safe and government officials, with fines up to $10,000 for breaches.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to on Sunday reveal the state's next steps out of lockdown, with Melbourne's 25-kilometre "ring of steel" travel ban likely to be lifted.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has, meanwhile, ramped up pressure on WA and Queensland to reopen borders, citing the "devastating impact" of job losses.

NSW recorded just one new case in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday and only 10 cases - one with an unknown source - have been recorded in the past seven days.

Both Queensland and WA recorded no cases, with the western state's 12 cases all in quarantine.

Two infections were reported in South Australia, a woman in her 40s and a man in is 30s. Both are returned travellers and in hotel quarantine.