Hundreds of Australians stuck in New Zealand as National Cabinet examines home quarantine for overseas arrivals – ABC News

Posted: September 20, 2021 at 8:50 am

Anton Minenko thought he would make it home to Australia in time for the birth of his second child.

Around 400 Australians are trying to get home from New Zealand

The suspension of quarantine-free travel from NZ has made it difficult for them to return

National Cabinet will today discuss plans to allow some international travellers to quarantine at home

He and his wife Juanita decided to move home from London, via the United States, earlier this year after spending several years living overseas.

She made it back to Canberra with their three-year-old son, but his plans to follow several months later fell through due to flight cancellations.

The New Zealand citizen and Australian permanent resident tried to travel through Auckland instead, but was halfway through his quarantine period there when so-called "green zone" flights to Australia were paused due to NZ's COVID-19 outbreak.

"I'm still stuck here, my daughter was born on the 2nd of September," he said.

"And so my wife is in Australia right now, she's in Canberra, she's looking after a newborn and my three-year-old son, and I'm still stuck in Auckland, New Zealand with no prospect of getting home just yet."

With the trans-Tasman travel bubble still suspended, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) revealed there were around 400 Australians registered as wanting to return home from New Zealand.

Mr Minenko is becoming increasingly frustrated and anxious.

"This is the time that I'll never get back, right, it's those moments that I've now missed forever," he said.

"For my wife it was extremely difficult because she was going through that emotional and mental toughness but also physically, it was very, very stressful for her.

"She has family around but you know it doesn't compare to having your husband by your side.'

Around the world, there are more than 40,000 Australians trying to navigate the states and territories' international flight caps to get home.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged their frustration, promising home quarantine will soon become an option for those who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

As Australia moves closer to the 70 and 80 per cent vaccination targets outlined in the national reopening roadmap, Mr Morrison has asked state and territory leaders to update today's National Cabinet meeting on their home quarantine plans.

Some states, including South Australia, have already introduced mobile phone apps using geo-location and facial recognition softwareto track interstate arrivals.

South Australia has begun a home-based quarantine trial for people returning from New South Walesand Victoria. So how will this work and when will it be used for international arrivals?

Professor Catherine Bennett, the chair in epidemiology at Deakin University, said the introduction of home quarantine for fully vaccinated overseas travellers was an important step forward that would allow more people to return.

"I actually see this coming along quite quickly," she said.

"When we hit those targets which is probably going to be early October at the rate we're going, around the 80 per cent mark, if we've got these outbreaks under control then I think it could happen at that point, certainly in the states that already have the virus in the community."

Leaders at today's National Cabinet meeting are also expected to be briefed on the COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales, as well as the vaccine rollout.

The most recent federal government figures show more than 44 per cent of Australians aged 16 and over have now been fully vaccinated.

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Hundreds of Australians stuck in New Zealand as National Cabinet examines home quarantine for overseas arrivals - ABC News

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