The government is set to make it even harder for Australians to get exemptions to leave the country, while at the same time saying international borders are unlikely to open until at least the middle of next year.
National cabinet met on Friday morning, pledging at least six repatriation flights will transfer Australians from India after May 15, with three set to land in Darwin for quarantine at the Howard Springs facility, and one each in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
While there is hope for those trying to travel from India, international travel is set to become more difficult across the board. In the statement from national cabinet, state and territory leaders seemed to support calls from Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan to clamp down on Australians seeking to leave the country.
"The Commonwealth will also consider tightening Australian Border Force (ABF) outbound travel restrictions for Australians travelling overseas and continue the restrictions in place in respect of applications for travel to high risk countries," the statement said.
Earlier on Friday, Trade Minister Dan Tehan confirmed Australia's borders would not be open to tourists for at least another year.
"The best guess would be in the middle to the second half of next year but as we've seen throughout this pandemic, things can change," Mr Tehan said on Sky News.
"So, the hope would be that we might be able to see a few more bubbles set up and would be able to see more travel being undertaken. But we're in a pandemic so, this is a best guess at this stage."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced the India travel ban would end on its planned expiry date, following a fierce backlash against the harsh measures.
There are 9500 Australians registered with the government wanting to come home, and 950 considered vulnerable in India.
Mr Morrison spoke with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday, and after the meeting said Mr Modi had thanked Australia for supporting India during the pandemic.
"We'll work closely on global challenges," Mr Morrison tweeted after the phone call.
People found to have coronavirus in a pre-flight test will be denied the right to board planes.
The ACT will not re-open its hotel quarantine program to take flights from India, as the territory doesn't have access to suitable large scale facilities, a government spokeswoman said.
"We recognise that there are ACT residents still to return to Australia and we are exploring options with other states to facilitate arrangements for these Canberrans," the statement said.
"The ACT government is reimbursing other states for the small number of ACT residents quarantining at their port of entry."
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