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Australians alerted to opportunity to return home

Australian citizens and permanent residents still in Samoa have been alerted to an opportunity to return home amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

The Australian High Commission in Apia, in a post on its Facebook page on Thursday, alerted its citizens and residents to a U.S. government charter next Monday to Samoa which will transit through Brisbane before going to Honolulu.

“If you are an interested Australian citizen or permanent resident, please visit the Australian High Commission on Beach Road, Apia, with your passport and evidence of your permanent address in Australia before 12 noon on Friday 3 April 2020,” states the A.H.C. social media post.

“We are aware of a possible flight to Brisbane, via Honolulu, leaving Faleolo Airport on or about Monday 6 April 2020. We urge Australians in Samoa to consider this opportunity, as it may be their last chance to return home for some time.”

Interested Australian citizens and permanent residents will have to pay US$757 ($2,101 tala) for the one-flight to Brisbane with the A.H.C. emphasising that it is a commercial flight and they had no control over the airfares.

“Please note that all passengers will need to reimburse the U.S. Government for the flight, and a promissory note must be signed before boarding. The estimated cost of this flight is USD757. This is not an Australian Government charter flight or operation. This is a commercial service and we have no control over pricing.”

The offer has also been opened to Kiwis who are currently resident in Australia under the Subclass 444 visa category, the A.H.C. added in its Facebook post. 

“Only Australian citizens, permanent residents, and New Zealand citizens who normally reside in Australia (subclass 444) can come into Australia. The Commissioner of the Australian Border Force may consider additional exemptions for immediate family members (spouse, dependent children, legal guardian) of an Australian citizen, and third-country nationals seeking to transit.”

The travelers on the flight to Brisbane next Monday will be put through mandatory quarantine upon arrival in Brisbane for 14 days in a designated facility, according to the A.H.C. with the costs of quarantine, including food and accommodation to be covered by Australian state governments.

The U.S. Embassy in Apia initially posted on its Facebook page on March 31 to alert citizens to the special U.S. Government charter, and urged interested Americans in Samoa to contact their office by or before April 1 if they wanted to capitalise on the repatriation.

“Please note that all passengers will need to reimburse the U.S. Government for the flight, and a promissory note must be signed before boarding. The estimated cost of this flight is USD $757.”

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