Australia’s overseas arrivals will be cut by around 3000 people a week once a 50 per cent cap is implemented around Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that commercial arrivals into Australia would be slashed to reduce pressure on quarantine facilities, due to the increased risks of the coronavirus Delta variant.

The 50 per cent reduction would see the cap on arrivals drop from about 6000 people across all states, to about 3000. There will be additional arrivals at Darwin’s Howard Springs quarantine facility, although a number for this has not yet been set.

Howard Springs can currently take around 1000 people. Arrivals at this facility will be on top of the 3000 cap at Australia’s other ports.

Aircrew and those travelling as part of the New Zealand travel bubble will not be included in the cap numbers.

Mr Morrison said the 50 per cent reduction would be phased in gradually but was expected to be in place by July 14 and would not be increased until Australia had achieved certain vaccination targets, which have not yet been set.

The targets will be part of a four-phase plan for Australia’s pathway out of Covid-19 lockdowns.

Human Rights Watch Australia researcher Sophie McNeill said the reduction in international arrivals would be devastating news for the more than 34,000 Australians still stranded overseas and their families.

“Australia has heavily restricted entry of its own citizens in a way that no other democratic nation has,” Ms McNeill said.

“But we need to remember that all Australians have a right of return to their own country. “Any limitations on that right due to public health grounds should be necessary and proportionate.

“At this stage of the pandemic, the Australian government needs to prioritise finding more ways to safely quarantine Australians returning from overseas, so these stranded Australians, particularly children and other vulnerable people, can safely return home as soon as possible.”

RELATED: Australia’s four-phase plan to end lockdowns

During the first phase of the covid plan, commercial inbound passenger arrivals to all major ports will be reduced by 50 per cent. A trial will also be undertaken of alternative quarantine options including home quarantine for vaccinated travellers.

The changes to arrivals will still see Sydney take about half of Australia’s overseas arrivals.

Current cap arrangements

Sydney: 3010 per week

Perth: 530

Adelaide: 530

Melbourne: 1000

Brisbane: 1000 (plus 300 surge capacity)

Total: 6070

Cap arrangements with 50 per cent reduction

Sydney: 1505 per week

Perth: 265

Adelaide: 265

Melbourne: 500

Brisbane: 500 (plus 150 surge capacity)

Total: 3035

Once the first phase vaccination target is reached, overseas arrival numbers will be restored, although the Prime Minister indicated this may not be until next year.

“We believe we’ll be in a position by the end of the year to have offered everyone a vaccine who seeks to have one,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

He said the vaccination target associated with the first phase had not yet been set but that Australia would hopefully be in phase two by next year. | @charischang2