Sydney | The Prime Minister announced on Friday that Australia would not extend its controversial decision to bar India from returning from a country plagued by a highly contagious disease.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison banned all visitors from India this week, fearing that isolated facilities could not handle passengers infected with COVID-19 once they arrived on Australian soil.
With about 9,000 Australians stranded in India, Mr Morrison has threatened severe fines and imprisonment for those who decide to trespass through other countries.
The Prime Minister pointed out on Friday that the move would be in effect till May 15 and that the return flights beyond this date could be resumed.
“The move is tentative and the medical opinion (…) is scheduled to end on May 15 without risk,” he said.
Three planes are scheduled to repatriate the most vulnerable Australians from India. Upon arrival, they will be taken to an isolated facility located locally.
To date, no decision has been made regarding the resumption of commercial flights.
Mr Morrison’s decision caused a stir among his allies who spoke out against a racist move and the abandonment of Australians abroad under vulnerable circumstances.
He had already returned to sue the returning Australians, saying it was unlikely that the permit would ever be used.
The legality of the ban will be examined by a federal court, and a hearing is scheduled for Monday.
Australia has a high prevalence of COVID-19 in its soil, especially through strict border control.
All recent outbreaks – highly localized – have been linked to deficiencies in isolated facilities.
As of March 2020, the number of Australians allowed to return to their home country is low.