Cautious approach to Aussies stuck abroad

A cap on international arrivals is unlikely to be lifted despite the fact thousands of Australians stranded overseas are desperate to come home.

More than 18,000 Australians abroad want to return but exorbitant airfares and the government cap are preventing many of them.

Senior federal government minister Mathias Cormann talked down the prospect on lifting the limit, which is currently set at 4000 passengers per week.

“We are taking a very cautious approach to the Australian border arrangements,” Senator Cormann said on Friday.

“We did urge Australians early on, quite strongly, to return if they wanted to return, and a lot of Australians did return at that time.

“Right now we are in a situation where globally there are about 260,000 new cases of coronavirus every day.”

Senator Cormann said there were practical, logistical limits to how many people could be managed through hotel quarantine in the capital cities.

“All of these things have been factored into maximising the possible in-flow of returning citizens and residents,” he said.

“But of course these things are always under review.

“We will always try and do as much as we possibly, practically can to facilitate the return of those Australians who want to come back.”

States requested limits on international arrivals so hotels could cope with the mandatory two-week quarantine program.

The current limits will remain in place until at least October 24.

More than 27,000 Australians have registered overseas, with 18,800 of them wanting to come home.

Most are in India, the Philippines, South Africa and Vietnam.

More than 371,000 Australians have returned home since March 13.

The federal government has organised 64 repatriation flights , with 13 of those from India.

The foreign affairs department has tried to help vulnerable Australians but has limited sway with airlines.

Nearly 400 people have been given emergency loans to help cover the cost of airfares.

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