The New South Wales government’s ‘pay for stay’ announcement for mandatory hotel quarantine has left many returning international travellers disappointed.
The New South Wales Government will begin to charge returning international travellers for their quarantine accommodation from Saturday, 18 July.
NSW will charge international travellers for their quarantine accommodation from Saturday, 18 July.
Travellers will be charged $3,000 for one adult.
Government-arranged quarantine hotels will remain mandatory, with no option to select hotels.
“Government-arranged quarantine hotels will remain mandatory, with no option to select hotels. The NSW Government will invoice travellers a fixed fee at the end of their stay,” the state government said in a statement.
Returning travellers will be charged $3,000 for an adult with $1000 for each additional adult and $500 each child over the age of three, for 14 days of stay. There will be no charges for a child under three.
The government says it has already spent $65 million on quarantine accommodation to house international travellers returning to Australia and the quarantine fee will reduce the financial burden of COVID-19 on NSW taxpayers.
However, many Australian stuck overseas say the fee is another burden on the top of their expensive air tickets.
Bhagath Kishore, who has been stuck in India since March says he even if returns to Australia alone, leaving his wife and kid in India, he won’t be able to afford the total expenses.
Even if I come back alone as I cannot afford to bring my family now, I will have to spend at least $5000.
“I am out of a job for more than four months now. I am from a low-income earner. It will take me another year to come back to where I was,” Mr Kishore told.
Ani, another Australian citizen of Indian origin, has been stuck in Andhra Pradesh in southern India for several months now. She says returning Australians shouldn’t have to pay for mandatory quarantine.
“We are really trying hard to find flights to return (to Australia). Once I return, maybe I need to work much harder to pay off all these fees. They need to understand it’s not our choice of staying back here.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the decision to charge all returning travellers, including Australian citizens, came after the federal cabinet announced a cap on the number of people arriving in Australia on Friday.
“Australian residents have been given plenty of time to return home, and we feel it is only fair that they cover some of the costs of their hotel accommodation,” Ms Berejiklian said.
However, those stranded overseas say they have not left any stone unturned to return to Australia.
Bhagath Kishore says there are “too few” flights available for the number of people stranded in India.
“The flights get booked out in minutes after announcements. People have been trying for months to book tickets.”
Bhagath Kishore says it will take him at least two years to come back to where he was financially and emotionally in pre covid times.
“It feels like I’m going backwards. Two years of my life are gone. I don’t know when I can bring my wife and kids back there,” said Mr Kishore.
He appeals to the Australian government to help all Australians come back.
“Indian Government is bringing all its citizens stranded around the world in special flights where as a developed country like Australia couldn’t arrange flights to India to bring its citizens,” says Mr Kishore.
Queensland has already been charging returning travellers and other states are expected to introduce similar fees.