Australians who are stranded abroad and desperate to return home during the coronavirus pandemic are offered seats on ‘mercy flights’ with Qantas and Virgin.
Thousands of civilians are said to have been stranded abroad, but four international routes are now subsidized by the federal government.
Both airlines previously withdrew thousands of employees and stopped all international flights.
But repatriation flights will now take place between Australia and Los Angeles, Hong Kong, London and Auckland to help stranded Australians return home.
It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted he was “frustrated” by the 16,000 citizens who chose to travel abroad in the past few weeks – despite the government ordering them not to.
Passengers are spotted leaving Brisbane Airport (photo) and boarded on Thursday where they were taken to hotels in the CBD to begin their COVID-19 quarantine
Qantas (stock image) flights and some operated by Virgin will be used to bring Australians home during coronavirus outbreak
Passengers who are helped to return home will have to pay their own air fares.
But the federal government had agreed to pay the financial losses to the airlines for flying the planes to pick up Australians.
It was also the compensation for any difference between the cost of the passengers’ tickets and the total cost of the flight.
Traveling abroad is effectively banned in Australia, with only 14 flights landing in Sydney on Friday as the government attempts to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
Many of Australia’s 5,337 cases are the result of Australians returning from abroad, whether on vacation or abroad.
A departing traveler at Sydney Airport on Monday (pictured) as vacationers leave Australia and citizens begin to return
About two thirds of the cases are said to come from cruise ship passengers after four infected cruise ships discharged thousands of passengers in a Sydney debacle.
The chaos, with more than 400 infected passengers leaving one ship alone – the Ruby Princess – prompted the government to introduce strict new arrival measures.
Everyone who comes to Australia from abroad must now isolate themselves 14 days after arrival, which also applies to all passengers on these grace flights.
Taxpayers pay the bill for the hotels, food and security.
On Tuesday, 292 Australian citizens and permanent residents were flown to Sydney from Peru, with tickets costing $ 5,000 each.
Australians returning from overseas will be brought to Sydney’s InterContinental hotel on Sunday for the 14-day quarantine period on Sunday (photo)
Police screen incoming passengers at Brisbane Domestic Airport on April 3
WHO PAYS FOR THE QUARANTINE HOTELS?
The cost of the 14-day quarantine hotels for arrivals in Australia is shared across the states.
It depends on where the upcoming trip usually lives.
So if the person is from Adelaide, but staying in a hotel in Sydney, South Australia will pay.
At the moment, there are no rules stipulating that the holidaymaker must pay for himself, which means it comes from the taxpayer.
Thousands of Australians have defied Mr. Morrison’s call to stop traveling abroad during the coronavirus outbreak, forcing taxpayers to pay their quarantine bills.
About 16,000 Australian citizens chose to fly abroad between March 19 and 30, despite strict instructions on March 18 to “not travel abroad.”
Even after an official ban on overseas travel began on March 24, 3,800 Australians left the country, according to data from The Australian.
But under strict new rules, every arrival in Australia is placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
This means that if the roughly 16,000 who have flown away to Australia want to return, the financial burden will be on the taxpayer, at a time when economists fear a recession.
Arrivals in Australia are taken to a mandatory hotel, quarantined for 14 days to slow the spread of the virus (photo, a quarantined couple at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne)
Hundreds of passengers who have flown into the country in the past week have already been taken to luxury hotels, all paid for by Australians.
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,337
New South Wales: 2389
Western Australia: 422
South Australia: 385
Australian Capital Territory: 87
Northern Territory: 22
TOTAL CASES: 5,337
But Western Australian Prime Minister Mark McGowan has warned that he would ‘like to ask holidaymakers’ if they ignore travel advice.
“It was irresponsible for people to go to Bali or Thailand or Britain or anywhere else,” he told reporters.
The cost of the quarantine accommodation, probably millions of dollars, is now spread across different states depending on where the traveler is from.
Prime Ministers hope this will ease pressure on New South Wales, where the vast majority of international arrivals are based in Sydney.
After the two-week quarantine, passengers can return home in various top hotels.
A traveler at Sydney Airport walks to a waiting bus (pictured) on Monday, ahead of a 14-day isolation period
Police are following the situation at Adelaide Airport on Wednesday as foreigners leave the country and Australians fly home
Of the 16,000 who defied the government’s call, the 3,800 who left after March 24 did so with a special government exemption.
This means they either live abroad, have to leave for compassionate reasons, or travel to an essential workplace.
There are 12,200 civilians left for no special reason, and despite warnings, they can endanger themselves or others to COVID-19.
Those who are still abroad are urged to ‘not wait’ to return to Australia and to do so as soon as possible – before any flights are left.
“Don’t skip commercial flights. In most cases, there are NO other flights available, ‘said Smart Traveler’s advice.
A Sydney police officer checks whether a returned traveler isolates himself on April 3 (see photo), following strict new rules