Australia will resume repatriation flights for some citizens in India after a controversial ban will end on May 15, PTI on Friday, quoting Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The Australian government had imposed a temporary ban on its citizens from returning home, if they have spent time in India up to 14 days, saying they could face up to five years in jail or fines. More than 9,000 Australians are in India at the moment, according to the BBC.
The rule, which was into effect till May 15, had sparked widespread criticism. It was also challenged in the federal court of Sydney by a 73-year-old Australian, who has been stranded in Bengaluru since March last year.
On Friday, Morrison said his government will begin bringing back “vulnerable Australians”.
“What we will be doing is receiving our first repatriation flight into the Northern Territory as part of the charter arrangements we have to bring back those first people from India at that time,” Morrison added. “In addition, there will be rapid antigen testing put in place for everyone getting on the flights.”
Evacuees will be taken to the Howard Springs quarantine facility in the Northern Territory, which will be expanded to provide 2,000 beds by next week, according to the BBC. “[We] will be at a level by May 15 to ensure, that as planned, we will be able to return to having those repatriation flights from India,” the Australian prime minister said.
Morrison, however, added that the original decision to put in place the biosecurity order until May 15 had “proved very effective” and it will run its full course until that time without any change. But it will not be extended beyond that date, he said.