stranded Australians react to news with hope and scepticism

London: Australians who have been unable to get home during the pandemic have expressed relief about NSW’s plans to quash quarantine – but also scepticism about how the rest of the country will treat those who come home.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has dropped all quarantine for fully vaccinated returning Australians from November 1. Children aged under 12 are treated as vaccinated.

Stranded Australians brought home on a repatriation flight arriving at Canberra airport last November. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Australia’s borders have been closed since March 2020 and, since July last year, a system of caps imposed by the states have restricted the number of Australians allowed into the country, effectively locking out tens of thousands of citizens trying to get home.

There are currently 40,000 Australians registered with DFAT as trying to get home.

Australian woman Kelsey May has been operating a Facebook sustain group for thousands of Australians stranded overseas by the caps on the number of Australians who can go into the country and the ban on citizens from leaving.

She said while NSW’s announcement was great news, it was not however the end of what has become known as Fortress Australia.

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“There’s understandable scepticism for many people today as we have progressed from the initial advice of ‘don’t come home if you have a job and roof over your head overseas’ to ‘why didn’t you come home,’ amidst closed airports and existing lockdowns overseas, to ‘you’ll be able to come home by Christmas 2020’, to this great news of a national plan,” she said.

“By all method, the news from NSW is terrific and extremely relieving and exciting for many — one of which is me, who hasn’t seen my sister in over two years, and my partner in over 18 months — but many are understandably waiting to see how it works.”

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