New Delhi: Australian citizens who are stuck in India and wish to return back home are at risk of facing fines of up to 66,000 Australian dollars (approximately USD 50,964) as Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says a travel ban will be put in place starting Monday. “The risk assessment that informed the decision was based on the proportion of overseas travellers in quarantine in Australia who have acquired a COVID-19 infection in India,” Hunt said as quoted by 9News.
The penalties are put into effect under the Biosecurity Act that will also stop people coming into the country from India via other destinations such as the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.
“Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units, five years` imprisonment, or both,” Hunt added. The new restrictions come into force after two people have arrived into Australia from India via Doha.
Over 9,000 Australians are currently stuck in India waiting to get a flight back home.
Hunt said the Federal Government has made it their top priority to bring Australians stranded in India back home with the organisation of repatriation flights. “We have to be able to continue to do two things – protect Australia and bring Australians home,” he added as quoted by the TV network. The travel ban will be in place until May 15, after which repatriation and commercial flights will resume. The Health Minister added that the temporary ban in travel has helped ease some pressure off of the quarantine system.
India is currently seeing a COVID-19 crisis as the second state with the largest number of detected COVID-19 cases in the world. Over 19.1 million cases of the virus have been registered in the country with 211,000 deaths.