Australians stranded in Europe are facing yet another hurdle to return home after Emirates suspended outbound flights from the United Kingdom.
Thousands of Australian citizens could be affected by the decision, which came in response to the British government closing its border to the United Arab Emirates.
The key transit hub of Dubai is now off limits until further notice.
Etihad could soon follow suit, ruling Abu Dhabi out of bounds too.
Labor senator Penny Wong warned the fresh flight ban could affect many of the nearly 40,000 Australians stranded overseas.
“We have a prime minister who told people he would get them home by Christmas last year. He did not do so,” she told the ABC on Friday.
“He should step up and take responsibility instead of doing what he so often does, which is when the going gets tough, he goes missing.”
Meanwhile, there are fresh concerns about Australia’s vaccine rollout after Germany warned against giving the AstraZeneca jab to people aged over 65.
Australia has ordered more than 50 million doses of the vaccine and plans to distribute the drug within months.
Germany’s vaccine committee says there is not enough trial data available to support approving the jab for over 65s, but British regulators insist the drug is safe.
Australian authorities are still assessing the data before approving the AstraZeneca jab.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has called for calm as the Therapeutic Goods Administration goes through the process.
“People need to look at advice coming out of the TGA. The medical advice, the scientific advice in this country, is what we should heed,” Mr Dutton told Nine.
“We have the best scientists in the world.
“They have not rushed this process, they’ve looked at the efficacy of the vaccines, and we will make decisions to roll it out on that basis.”
Mr Dutton says the TGA will only approve the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is safe and effective.
“We will not make a decision that will put the health of Australians at risk.”
Doubts about the AstraZeneca jab add to concerns about whether Pfizer can keep up with global demand for its vaccine.
There are fears the combination of factors could put a dent in public confidence.
The Pfizer vaccine has already received TGA approval in Australia.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that drug would now be rolled out without age restrictions.
Mr Frydenberg expects the TGA to reach a decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine by early March, if not sooner.
“They will take into account the German regulatory authorities and data as well as the British regulatory authorities thinking and data,” he told Sky News.
“The Germans have said they don’t have enough data to provide it to those over 65 whereas the UK regulatory authorities have reached a different decision.”
The government plans to roll out the imported Pfizer vaccine first in late February, followed by shipments of imported AstraZeneca jabs and then the Melbourne-made CSL product.
Meanwhile, the ACT will lift its travel restrictions from 3pm on Friday for people from the Cumberland area in NSW.
The decision means there are no longer any travel restrictions in place for travel to the ACT from any state or territory.