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Source: Prime Minister of Australia

The Australian and Tasmanian Governments have agreed to provide an additional 450 spaces in quarantine facilities in Hobart hotels to help more Australians return home from abroad.

The Tasmanian Government has indicated it would increase its quarantine capacity spaces if it can confirm additional hotel contracts, which will then make it possible for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in partnership with Qantas, to arrange facilitated commercial flights to help Australians return home.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the additional capacity was on top of the 6,315 weekly quarantine spaces currently agreed to by states and territories.

“We’re working every option to help as many Australians return home as quickly as possible,” the Prime Minister said.

“We thank Premier Gutwein and his government for their willingness to help us tackle the challenges our friends and family are facing overseas amidst the pandemic.”

The Commonwealth is continuing to work with state and territory authorities to further increase the quarantine capacity they can offer, as well as further facilitated flights.

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said Tasmania was pleased to support the national effort to help Australians in need.

“Tasmania will never turn its back on its fellow Australians, and as I have said for some time, we stand ready to play our role to help bring Australians home,” the Premier said.

“This is being achieved in a COVID-safe way for returning Australians and Tasmanians, with all inbound passengers required to be tested prior to travel, and will need to return a negative COVID-19 test on or after day 10 of their quarantine period before entering our community.

“This deal also means supporting our hotel industry which has seen a significant downturn in bookings this year.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne said DFAT officials would work with Qantas to ensure the most vulnerable Australians registered are given priority access to these flights.

“Our focus is on helping Australians who want and need to return,” Minister Payne said.

“More than 411,000 Australians have returned since 13 March and around 30,600 have been assisted by the Australian Government including on 66 directly facilitated flights.”

The Government continues to assist vulnerable Australians overseas through consular assistance and through the Hardship Program. Financial assistance is available to help cover the costs of flights where other sources of finance have been exhausted.

More than 7,000 Australians of the 26,200 registered with DFAT on 18 September have returned since, including around a quarter who were considered vulnerable.

We continue to encourage Australians trying to return to Australia from overseas to register with DFAT through the nearest embassy or high commission or via Smartraveller.

The Government is underwriting the cost of the flights, and airfares will be available at commercial rates to passengers, with loans through DFAT available to those who need assistance.

More details on the flights will be available on smartraveller.gov.au and qantas.com.

MIL OSI News