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    COVID-19: Number of stranded Australians desperate to return home nears 36,000

    Number of stranded Australians desperate to return home nears 36,000 – but arrival caps mean some might not get a flight back for SIX MONTHS

    • There are almost 36,000 Australians stranded overseas trying to get home 
    • Prime Minister said on Friday there was 24,000 people registered to come home 
    • Arrival caps mean it could take some Australians six months to return back

    There are almost 36,000 Australians stranded overseas trying to get home, an increase of more than 10,000 in less than a week.

    The bulging figure was revealed at a Senate inquiry which heard the personal plights of citizens desperate to get home.

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday there was about 24,000 Australians registered to come home as he announced a staged increase in the weekly arrivals cap.

    There are almost 36,000 Australians stranded overseas trying to get home, an increase of more than 10,000 in less than a week (pictured, people returning on a domestic flight in August)

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said on Friday there was about 24,000 Australians registered to come home as he announced a staged increase in the weekly arrivals cap

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said on Friday there was about 24,000 Australians registered to come home as he announced a staged increase in the weekly arrivals cap

    The limit on people returning is slated to increase to 6,000 next month. At that rate it would take six months for every registered return traveller to arrive back.

    Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet officials said hotel quarantine capability – not the availability of flights – was stopping more people returning.

    The latest figures show 35,700 people want to come home.

    At that rate it would take six months for every registered return traveller to arrive back. 

    Deputy secretary Simon Duggan told the committee commercial flights into Australia had about 20,000 spare seats each week.

    ‘The availability of flights has not been the binding constraint on getting Australians home,’ he said.

    Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet officials said hotel quarantine capability - not the availability of flights - was stopping more people returning (pictured, hotel quarantine in Sydney in August)

    Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet officials said hotel quarantine capability – not the availability of flights – was stopping more people returning (pictured, hotel quarantine in Sydney in August)

    He said the intention was to have everyone on the list back in the country by Christmas.

    ‘Our hope is of course that we’re able to bring all Australians home in that time frame, but there are a lot of variables in calculating exactly what that will be,’ Mr Duggan said.

    Travel ban and caps on weekly arrivals have led to many Australians in vulnerable circumstances being left without a way home.

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