Table of Contents
- All about stranded Aussies
- General References
All about stranded Aussies
Australian citizens and permanent residents are stranded around the world unable to travel to Australia (henceforth referred to as "stranded Aussies"). This is a living document (meaning it is being updated) and a work in progress about the situation. Please open an issue or contact xKbwwk@protonmail.com if you have any feedback. This document is under public domain - you do not need any permission to modify or redistribute it.
- The current cap per week is 1, 2, 3, 4:
- NSW: 3010
- QLD: 1000
- SA: 530
- VIC: 0
- WA: 900
- Total: 5440
- NT: 425? 5
- ACT: bespoke
- TAS: bespoke
- The current cap is expected to last until at least 2021-04-30 3.
- The cap for NT may also rise as the federal government is looking to expand the capacity further of Howard Springs 3. It has not reached 425 per week yet as of 2021-02-16 6.
- For the evolution of the caps, see Caps.
- The next National Cabinet will take place on 2021-03-05 3.
- Number of stranded according to the media according to DFAT: 37k.
2020-01-25: First COVID-19 case in Australia reported 7.
2020-03-01: First COVID-19 death in Australia reported 8.
2020-03-17: Government urges Australians overseas to return home. "If you’re already overseas and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means." "If you’re overseas and can’t or don’t want to return to Australia, follow the advice of local authorities." 9 , 10. This was followed by the "first wave" of stranded Aussies.
2020-03-18 to 2020-04-16 (?): News of Australians stranded all over the world 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17.
2020-03-20: Australia closed its borders to all non-residents and non-Australian citizens 18.
2020-03-25: From 12pm on this day, Australia required that Australian citizens and permanent residents seek exemptions to leave the country 19. Later it was revealed three out of four requests to leave Australia were refused 20.
2020-03-28: Overseas arrivals to Australia will be quarantined in hotels for two weeks 21 , 22.
2020-06-20: Victoria re-tightened measures 23.
2020-07-01: all international arrivals into Melbourne suspended for two weeks 24 and the suspension was extended to 24th October with other caps 25, and later further extended till 7th December 26. This triggered the beginning of the "second" and current wave of Aussies stranded overseas. On the next day a judicial inquiry into the program in Victoria was called 27.
Note that even though news say the caps were introduced in early July (see below), ABS data shows that since April the arrival numbers remained on a similar low compared to after "the introduction of the caps". So the cap "introduction" did not really change the practical difficulty of flying to australia.
2020-07-04: Sydney introduced international arrival cap of 450 per day 28.
2020-07-07: WA introduced international arrival cap of 525 per week 29.
2020-07-09: Melbourne lockdown began 30.
2020-07-10: National Cabinet decided to start charging for Hotel Quarantine, as well as first announcement of State HQ caps of 4125 per week starting from 2020-07-13 31 from the previous arrival of about 6500 per week 32.
2020-07-03 (?) to now: News of Australians stranded all over the world 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53.
2020-09-18: National Cabinet agreed to increase the cap from 4000 to 6000 a week 54 , 55 (actual HQ change was about 1500 over two weeks , see Caps).
2020-10-23: National Cabinet made small lift to the cap, and Howard Springs began to be used as quarantine facility with a cap of 250 per week 56.
2020-10-28: Melbourne lockdown ended 57.
2020-11-13: National Cabinet made small lift on the caps 58: 3000 for NSW, 600 for SA, 1300 for QLD, 1025 for WA etc. PM declared alternatives to hotel quarantine unsafe 59.
2020-11-17: SA suspends international flight arrivals 60, and the suspension was later extended till at least 2020-11-30 61, and was only resumed on 2020-12-08 62.
2020-12-07: Melbourne resumes international arrival with a cap of 1120 per week 63, 26.
2020-12-19: Northern beaches outbreak triggered lockdown 64.
2021-01-05: Qantas announced that it had moved the resumption date of ticket sales for international flights to 1 July 65.
2021-01-07: A QLD hotel quarantine cleaner confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 of the UK strain. The next day Great Brisbane entered a three day lockdown 66.
2021-01-08: National Cabinet agreed to halve the caps for NSW, QLD and WA from no later than 2021-01-15 and require negative COVID-19 test results before departure 67. The cap will remain until 2021-02-15 1. The new caps for some states are: 1505 for NSW, 512 for WA, 500 for QLD, 1120 for VIC, 490 for SA 1.
2021-01-11: NT's international arrival cap lifts from 250 (or 300? 68) to 425 per week 2.
2021-01-15: Emirates announced it was indefinitely suspending all flights to, or from, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne 69. About a week later the airline announced it will resume the flights 70.
2021-01-16: The Federal government announced 20 repatriation flights to return Australian citizens stranded overseas 71, 72.
2021-01-22: National Cabinet decided not to lift the caps 73.
2021-01-25: Australia halts New Zealand travel bubble for 72 hours over one case with South African strain 74. Travellers coming from New Zealand to Australia will have to go into mandatory hotel quarantine. The suspection was later extended by another 72 hours 75 and ended on 2021-01-31. On the same day, Australia approved the Pfizer vaccine 76.
2021-01-31: Much of Western Australia goes into five-day lockdown after hotel guard tests positive to UK Covid variant 77.
2021-02-05: National Cabinet lifted the caps from 4127 to 6362, effective on 2021-02-15 78.
2021-02-13: Victoria enters a 5-day lockdown after quarantine breach at Holiday Inn. All international arrivals are halted.
2021-02-22: Vaccination rollout to start 79.
- Empty cells mean no change from previous number.
- ? means unknown, or the number is uncertain if following a number.
- means increasing, but exact cap number uncertain.
- The average weekly arrival of the month is calculated from the data provided by ABS, which likely counts exemptions and repatriation flights.
|Date||NSW||QLD||SA||VIC||WA||5 States Total||NT||Sources||Avg weekly arrival of the month|
|2020-07-13||500||0?||4175||1, 2, 3|
|2020-09-28||2950||700||600||725||4975||1, 2, 3||3901|
|2020-11-??||1150||650||1165||5865||1, 2, 3||6946|
- Mandatory 14-day HQ started in 2020-03-29 (1, 2), before that was self-isolation for 14 days (1).
- The 2020-07-10 National Cabinet was the first one to release information about caps of all states. The caps went into effect on 2020-07-13. This is why the "States Total" is only calculated starting from that date.
- Since the total cap was about 4000 according to media, SA probably did not take international arrival until later (2020-08-07).
- According to the media according to the federal government, the number of arrivals before this was about 6500. However it is not clear whether there was a cap of 6500 in place (1).
- The caps were introduced for NSW on 2020-07-04 (1) and WA on 2020-07-07 (1), even though they were later "re-decided" in the 2020-07-10 National Cabinet.
- Even though some media claimed the increase of cap is about 2000 after the 2020-09-28 National Cabinet, that number included chartered flights, which is not counted in the 5-state numbers in the table. Another source confirmed the ~5600 number of HQ caps after the increase (1).
- ACT is used for repatriation flights (1) and diplomats and their family members (1).
- The 2020-10-23 National Cabinet decided to increase caps of WA, SA and QLD, starting from "next month". It is not clear exact which date.
- The 2020-11-13 National Cabinet decided a "surge efforts" of 300 extra per week for QLD (1), which corroborates with the "150 extra" in the press conference (2), as the previous National Cabinet added 150 to the 1000. However it is not clear how long the 1300 cap lasted and when it became 1000 again.
- SA resumed international arrivals on 2020-12-08 (1), with an unknown cap number, which was likely to be 490 as this is the number used in the 2021-01-08 National Cabinet.
- There is a bit of information blackhole between the 2020-11-13 and the 2020-01-08 National Cabinets. During this time, the NSW cap went from 3000 to 3010, QLD returned from 1300 to 1000, SA went from 600 to 0 and then 490. None of these changes can be dated except the SA suspension of international arrivals. The 2020-12-11 National Cabinet did not mention caps except for NSW (3000) (1, 2).
- The Howard Spring cap lift was announced on 2021-01-11, but did not have a date attached, except that it would begin to "scale up" across January. In fact, as of 2021-02-16, it has not reached the 425 per week cap yet 1.
some facts about caps
- caps can be underutilised (1).
- NT, TAS and ACT caps are not significant and often apply under bespoke arrangement of repatriation flights.
Most of the numbers are number of people registered with DFAT that want to return, provided by DFAT. Some higher numbers (100k / 30k in the UK) were estimates from BARA. It is unclear whether there has been any update from DFAT regarding the numbers since January 2021.
- 2020-03-27: 20k
- 2020-08-20: 18k
- 2020-08-25: 18.8k
- 2020-08-28: 100k
- 2020-09-12: 25k / 100k
- 2020-09-15: 28k
- 2020-09-16: 30k in UK alone
- 2020-09-18: 24k
- 2020-10-23: > 32k
- 2020-11-13: 35,637 / 36500
- 2020-11-26: 36,875
- 2020-12-15: 39k
- 2021-01-07: 39k
- 2021-01-08: 38k
- 2021-01-16: > 37k
- 2021-01-31: 37k
These numbers are from government sources, e.g. DFAT. But most of them count from March 2020 with unknown exact start date. Note that a lot happened in March, including the border closure and the introduction of hotel quarantine (see Timeline), and there might be a watershed moment sometime in the month, after which there were much fewer arrivals. Indeed, if you calculate the difference between the first reading on 2020-07-10 and the last reading on 2021-01-16 (assuming the last reading counted from the same date 2020-03-13), that is 83k over 6 months, or on average 14k per month. This is much lower than the average of 90k per month for the first four month (357k from 2020-03-13 to 2020-07-10).
Numbers per month can be found at ABS, but the following number cannot be recovered from the public data at ABS as the latter implies the number of citizens and PR arrivals were 691k from March to December and 153k from April to December.
- 2020-07-10: 357k since 2020-03-13
- 2020-08-20: 371k since March, 14k more than the previous reading 357k
- 2020-11-13: 414k since "the beiginning of the pandemic", 37k more than the previous reading 371k
- 2020-12-15: 45k since mid-September
- 2021-01-07: 430k since "mid-March, when Australia closed its border"
- 2021-01-16: 440k since "people were told to reconsider the need to travel abroad at the start of the pandemic"
- 2021-01-31: 80k
- 2021-02-05: 211k have returned through HQ since March 2020
Multiple solutions have been proposed in various opinion pieces 80, 81, 82.
- Returning to Australia | Smartraveller
- Media Center | Prime Minister of Australia
- search for 'national cabinet' there
- Coronavirus - ABC News
- The Guardian Australian News
- SMH Coronavirus
- The Age Coronavirus
- Brisbane Times Coronavirus
- WAToday Coronavirus
- stranded Aussies: #strandedAussies #getaussieshome #bringthemhome #removethecaps, or any of these hashtags
- plus others (temp visa holders / partner visa holders / international students / exit ban) affected by border measures: #WeAreNotOneAndFree #PrisonIsland #MessageToScotty #BrendanMurphy #EndTravelBan #partnersapart #InternationalStudentsAustralia #LetUsBackToAus #extend485visas #LetUsComeToAus #extendtemporaryvisas #OpenAusBordersforStudents, or any of these or above hashtags
- plus general aus politics: #auspol #Scottyfrommarketing, or any of these or above hashtags
- public groups
- private groups
- Australians in quarantine facilities
- Aussie Expats Coming Home
- Aussie's Abandoned Abroad
- Remove the cap - support group
- Australians Stuck in India
- Australians Stranded in the Philippines
- Aussies trying to get home from Canada
- Australians/New Zealanders Stranded in Southern Africa
- Australians stranded in South America
- UK passengers Travelling Qatar Airways
- Australians stranded in Malaysia C-19
- Australians Stranded in Ireland
- Remove the cap
- Stranded Aussies Action Network (SAAN)
- Protect the right of stranded Aussies - Amnesty International Australia
- Help Stranded Aussies
- Petition · Get stranded Aussies home. Lift the flight caps. · Change.org
- APH Petition EN1710 - Repeal Flight Restrictions and Paid Quarantine for Returning Australians
- Stranded Aussies | BringThemHome
- We Just Want To Go Home – Real stories from #StrandedAussies
- The Right To Return Home | Campaigns by Me
- Scrap The Caps
- Get Us Bloody Home
- Australian Human Rights Commission
- Ombudsmen: National, VIC83, NSW, WA, QLD, SA, NT, ACT, TAS
- United Nations Human Rights Council
How you can help stranded Aussies
- Join campaigns.
- File complaints.
- If you are stranded, register with DFAT. The reported numbers of stranded Aussies come from their registry.
- If you are stranded, consider advocating for others have been affected by the border measures, including stranded international students, partner visa holders, those stranded onshore because of the exit ban.
- Conversely if you are not stranded Aussie, but are affected by the border measures, consider advocating for stranded Aussies.
- If you are not affected by the border measures at all, consider advocating for those who are, including stranded Aussies.
- COVID-19 pandemic in Australia - Wikipedia
- Timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia - Wikipedia
- National Cabinet (Australia) - Wikipedia
5 NT only applies to repatriation flights, see 2, 1.
83 Victorian Ombudsman investigated the Melbourne tower lockdown, concluded it is a human rights breach and demanded apologies from the VIC government (which the latter refused): https://www.ombudsman.vic.gov.au/our-impact/investigation-reports/investigation-into-the-detention-and-treatment-of-public-housing-residents-arising-from-a-covid-19-hard-lockdown-in-july-2020/, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55342990