International arrival caps will be halved because of the new more infectious COVID-19 strain


The cap on international passengers coming to Australia will be cut by 50% in three states until February 15. The new protocols were introduced by National Cabinet last week to address the threat of the new “more infectious [and] much more difficult to control” UK coronavirus strain. 

Passengers on all international flights will also be tested and need to return a negative test before being allowed to fly to Australia, and all passengers, including on domestic flights, will have to wear masks. 

If a person returns a positive test they and any household contacts will be barred from flying to Australia. 

Key points: 

  • Masks will be mandatory for all international and domestic flights 
  • International arrival caps will be halved until February 15 
  • All international travellers will have to return a negative test before being allowed to fly to Australia 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said“The purpose here is to both reduce and de-bulk the risk in terms of exposure to the new strain. 

“What we do know is that this new strain is some 70 per cent more transmissible than the previous strains of the virus. 

“This strain is likely to become [the] more dominant strain of the virus globally.” 

Under the new rules, New South Wales will move to a weekly cap of about 1,500, Western Australia and Queensland 500, Victoria will not change as they are already operating at a lower capacity after their outbreak and South Australia will also not change its caps. 

“In the smaller jurisdictions — the ACT, the Northern Territory, Tasmania — they are very bespoke arrangements in relation to those airports and they’ll be settled between the Commonwealth and those jurisdictions specifically,” he said. 


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