Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce luncheon address in Melbourne on May 6. William West / AFP / Getty Images
Australia will allow its citizens and permanent residents to return from India starting May 15, ending a controversial entry ban for anyone who has been in India in the past 14 days.
The ban is enforced with a possible five year jail sentence, a fine of $ 51,000, or both.
There are around 9,000 Australians in India who have officially notified the Australian government that they want to return home, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He said 900 of these people were classified as “vulnerable”.
While commercial flights will not resume, Morrison said the Australian federal government will operate three return flights between May 15 and May 31.
With a few exceptions, only Australian citizens, permanent residents and travelers from New Zealand can enter Australia. All must be in state quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.
Around 40,000 Australians around the world have told the government that they want to return. A little more than 5,000 quarantine places are available every week.
Morrison’s administration denied criticism that the ban on entry from India was purely racist. The prime minister said Friday that the entry ban “is working as intended” to keep Covid-19 out of Australia.