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Key Points

  • The office of the Prime Minister of Australia and the National Cabinet announced a temporary 50% reduction to all international passenger (inbound) arrivals
  • This reduction applies to all major Australian ports
  • The official kickoff date for this change was July 14, 2021, and the reduction will hold until August 31, 2021
  • This measure reflects an effort by the Australian government to suppress COVID-19 transmissions, particularly of the Delta variant


Australia’s National Cabinet has temporarily reduced international passenger arrival caps by 50% to alleviate pressure on quarantine and health facilities. The reduction began on July 14, 2021, and will be subject to a National Cabinet review before the August 31, 2021 end date (and throughout the rest of 2021). Returning Australian citizens will be prioritized during this window.

As a consolation to travelers, the Commonwealth will fund an increased number of commercial repatriation flights (utilizing capacity at the Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs). Additionally, the Commonwealth will extend supports through the International Freight Assistance Mechanism to maintain the transfer of essential goods and supply items.

In addition to the passenger reduction, the Australian government is reviewing the following support strategies through a 4-phase response plan, the first being:

  • Potential alternative quarantine options, including home quarantine for fully vaccinated travelers returning to their domicile
  • Expansion of commercial trials for limited entry, especially for economic visa holders and students
  • Adoption of the existing digital Medicare Vaccination Certificate (automatically generated for every vaccination registered on AIR)
  • Creation of a digital vaccination authentication system for use at international borders
  • Preparations for the vaccine booster program
  • Continued review of the national hotel quarantine system

What are the Changes?

Effective July 14, 2021, the international passenger cap for travelers entering Australia is reduced by 50%. This has been implemented to suppress risks posed by the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Looking Ahead

The future of COVID-19 variant risk(s) remains uncertain, but employers can expect Australian policies to remain in place for now. Employers with Australia-bound talent should pay close attention to these updates and anticipate tighter restrictions for the remainder of 2021. The reduced flight caps will not prevent critical skilled workers (particularly those nominated in occupations in the Priority Migration Skills Occupation List (PMSOL)) from obtaining a travel exemption to enter Australia but will affect the traveler’s ability to secure a flight to Australia.

This news alert was provided in partnership with Fiona Wang, Partner at Gilton Valeo Lawyers.

Source: Expertise from Fiona Wong, Partner at Gilton Valeo Lawyers, & Media Statement from the Prime Minister’s Website

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