Australians split apart from their families and stranded overseas have slammed Labor premiers who have forced through a cut to the Covid-19 international arrival caps.
From July 14 until at least the end of August, the weekly cap will be halved to just 3,035 to help keep out the highly contagious Delta strain of the disease which is responsible for Sydney's two-week lockdown.
Breast cancer sufferer Martine Dines (pictured with her parents and fiance), whose parents have been granted an exemption to enter Australia from Ireland to be with her, is worried the caps may affect their travel next week because they could be implemented by states any time from nowInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Martine Dines (pictured with her fiance Sean Keenan) fought for her parents to be allowed to enter from Ireland as she battles breast cancer
Some 34,000 Australians stranded overseas may now find it more difficult to get home despite an increase to repatriation flights to the Howard Springs quarantine facility near Darwin.
Breast cancer sufferer Martine Dines, whose parents have been granted an exemption to enter Australia from Ireland to be with her, is worried the caps may affect their travel next week because they could be implemented by states any time from now.
Her fiancé Sean Keenan said the move was a 'backwards step' that puts the country further away from returning to normality.
'It's like we're going backwards with this, we're no closer to things going back to normal. It just seems like they don't listen to ordinary people,' he told Daily Mail Australia.
'This is going to make things so much worse for anyone trying to get their family here.'
Sydney bride-to-be Martine Dines, 29, wanted her Irish parents to be allowed in to the country as she battles breast cancerInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Sydney resident Miss Dines, 29, was on holiday on Hamilton Island when she found two lumps on her breast and now faces a gruelling six-months of surgery, chemotherapy and fertility treatment.
On Thursday her Irish parents were granted an exemption to enter on compassionate grounds, which include, but are not limited to, needing to travel due to the death or critical illness of a close family member.
The exemption was required because the rules allow 'immediate family' of Australians and residents to enter via hotel quarantine but this only includes spouses and dependent children, not parents.
Mr Keenan said the definition was cruel. 'Imagine if Scott Morrison wanted to visit his children overseas but they had to turn to him and say, ''sorry you're not immediate family''.
'Martine came out of her mother's womb, how much more immediate can you get?'
A group of mothers including Audiologist Sophie Robinson and IT consultant Azadeh Oskouipour visited Parliament House last month because their foreign parents have never met their grandchildren born during the pandemic.
Mr Morrison (pictured on Friday) completed 14 days of quarantine at The Lodge in Canberra, after returning from the G7 summit in the UK
Lauren Newman, who is from Wodonga on the New South Wales Victoria border but lives in the US, said the caps reduced her hope of seeing her Australian parents again soon.
'It's awful. So awful. My husband and I expected this closure to be done by Dec 2021. I'm really doubting that after this week,' she wrote.
'I feel so angry and sorry for those who are desperate to get back. We are secure in our living here in the US, and love being here, but it's hard to know our kids are away from their grandparents, and others are missing out on precious tome with their families. There's nothing right about this.'
The Australian Border Force says allowing parents would mean at least 100,000 would enter the country, overwhelming the quarantine system and preventing Australians from returning home.
After sharing the good news of the exemption with his social media followers, photographer Mr Keenan said his inbox has been flooded with more than 500 messages from desperate people separated from their families, many of them Australian citizens stranded overseas.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) wanted arrivals halved to help stop the Delta variant of Covid enter the country
The Prime Minister held a National Cabinet meeting today with premiers including Daniel Andrews (pictured) as they planned Australia's pandemic future
'People are desperate. It's not just Irish or English, it's people from all around the world stuck in similar situations. This is just going to kick up a bigger storm,' he said.
Ms Dines' parents are waiting to receive their tourist visas that will allow them to enter Australia and Mr Keenan is anxious to confirm flight bookings for July 5 or July 9 to ensure they arrive in New South Wales before the caps take effect.
Ahead of Friday's National Cabinet meeting, Ms Palaszczuk wanted the caps cut in half while Mr Andrews wanted the numbers cut by up to 80 per cent.
It's like we're going backwards with this, we're no closer to things going back to normal
'We are at a pressure cooker moment,' Ms Palaszczuk told reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday as the state's quarantine hotels filled up due to domestic border restrictions and international arrivals.
Mr Andrews agreed, saying: 'It won't be easy to lock some people out. But locking some people out is much better than locking everybody down.'
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews on Wednesday said the caps should not be cut because Australians should be allowed to come home and Chief Medical Officer Professor Kelly said only six in 1,000 international arrivals had Covid-19.
Ms Andrews called the move a 'smokescreen' to distract from the Queensland Government's own failures.
The latest lockdown of Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Townsville was sparked after the State Government let an infected hospital clerk, 19, work while unvaccinated and put a FIFO worker in quarantine next to high-risk international travellers from whom he caught Covid before spreading the disease in the Northern Territory.
'Clearly what Annastacia Palaszczuk is doing [putting] up a smokescreen to hide the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of quarantine that is administered and managed by the Queensland Government,' Ms Andrews said in a press conference at the Gold Coast on Wednesday.
A family from New Zealand reunite at Sydney International Airport in April. These types of reunions could be on ice for many as travel caps are cut
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian - whose state has taken half of all returned travellers - said she didn't agree but accepted the decision.
'I am disappointed that every State hasn't done its fair share but I appreciate and have to respect the decision of National Cabinet,' she said.
'I don't support the view that other Premiers have that this means mistakes aren't going to happen and we're not going to have outbreaks. That is still going to occur,' she warned.
The cut to travel caps came as Mr Morrison outlined a four-phase transition towards living with Covid and finally ending the cycle of lockdowns and border closures.
The Prime Minister hailed a 'new deal for Australians' as he explained the stages titled vaccinate, prepare and pilot; post vaccination phase; consolidation phase; and final phase.
The pace of the plan - which will eventually let the country manage Covid like flu - depends on the vaccine rollout, with lockdowns eliminated once a certain percentage of Aussies have been fully jabbed with two doses.
'I have made it very clear today what is on the other side. If we all get vaccinated then this all changes,' Mr Morrison said.
'The pathway we have agreed today gives all Australians encouragement and much needed hope in what has been a very difficult time.'
The plan was announced after 12 million Australians were locked down this week due to several outbreaks across the nation. Darwin ended its lockdown on Friday at 1pm after recording zero cases but Brisbane's was extended until Saturday night due to two new infections.
Scott Morrison is pictured leaving quarantine after two weeks in his house in Canberra following the G7 summit
The plan came after 12 million Australians were locked down this week due to several outbreaks across the nation. Pictured: A runner during Sydney lockdown on Friday
1. Vaccinate, prepare and pilot (from July 14)
Arrival caps cut in half to 3,035 a week; lockdowns and state border closures as a last resort; trials of seven-day home quarantine for vaccinated arrivals; medicare vaccination certificates