Australia will halve the number of citizens allowed to return home from overseas each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as authorities struggle to contain a COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s second most populous state.
Since March, Australia has allowed only citizens and permanent residents to enter the country. Once they arrive, they enter a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels, which is paid for by state governments.
Morrison said from Monday, Australia will cap the figures at 4,000 people each week. Those who return will also have to pay for their quarantine stays.
“The decision that we took… was to ensure that we could put our focus on the resources needed to do the testing and tracing and not have to have resources diverted to other tasks,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra after a meeting of the national cabinet.
Neighboring New Zealand enacted measures earlier this week to limit the number of citizens returning home to reduce the burden on its overflowing quarantine facilities.