Scott Morrison wants quarantine-free international travel to New Zealand by Christmas, as part of a three-stage plan to get the nation to Covid-normal by the end of the year.
The prime minister outlined the plan at the national cabinet meeting on Friday, with a travel bubble potentially including other approved low-risk nations, and a trial, operating from early December, to allow seasonal workers and international students to undergo the mandatory 14-day quarantine outside of a supervised hotel setting.
Morrison also lobbied Victoria to accept international arrivals, as part of a push to increase the weekly cap on returned travellers to 6,000. The federal government has said it aims to have all 26,000 Australians registered to return home back in the country by Christmas.
The first repatriation flight from London landed in Darwin on Friday with 161 passengers who will quarantine at Howard Springs.
He said that, following discussions with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews in national cabinet, he was “hoping they will be able to make a move on being able to receive international arrivals”.
“That day isn’t here yet but I know it’s a priority for the premier because he wants to see Victorians come home,” he said.
Asked ahead of the national cabinet meeting if Victoria would be accepting international flights by Christmas, Andrews said that’s “certainly our aim” but not before the hotel quarantine inquiry had delivered its final report on 6 November.
Speaking at his daily press conference, the Victorian premier said an outbreak at a school in Melbourne’s northern suburbs would not delay a “significant” easing of restrictions from Sunday and he was “confident in where things are at the moment”.
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As of Friday there were 800 people in Victoria under self-isolation orders as contacts and close contacts of coronavirus cases, including 400 people connected to the 83 families whose children attend East Preston Islamic school.
Authorities announced on Wednesday that a student had tested positive. A parent of another child who attends the school – but who did not have direct contact with the first student or their family – has also since tested positive.
It was the only new case recorded in Victoria on Friday. There are just five active cases in aged care and seven among healthcare workers.
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Meanwhile, New South Wales reported no new locally acquired cases on Friday, but seven new cases in hotel quarantine.
Andrews said the school outbreak did not necessarily mean there was broader transmission in the school community.
“We are very well placed to make some significant announcements on Sunday