Plans underway for international students, actors, major event workers to enter Victoria

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Victoria is vying to welcome back international students and workers next month under a state government plan to support its COVID-19 economic recovery.

The proposal would see the state accept 120 arrivals per week from May 24, including overseas students and workers required for major events or stage/screen productions. The arrivals would be housed in a separate hotel quarantine facility to returned Australians, with the arrangements understood to be similar to those implemented for the Australian Open.

In a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Acting Premier James Merlino said the program would operate on an “industry/user-pays model” supported by the relevant industries such as tertiary institutions, stage and screen productions and major event organisers, providing funding for the operational costs.

The cost of the quarantine program would be “over and above” the $3000 fee for one adult paid by returning Australians. A final fee would be set through consultation with relevant industries.

In a letter obtained by 9News, Acting Premier James Merlino outlines the plan for the return of international students and workers to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The letter states the Victorian Government would be prepared to accept international students and workers from May 24.

The international students would not impact Victoria’s international passenger cap of 1000 arrivals per week.

Mr Merlino today said he was “hopeful for a positive response” from the Federal Government.

“International students are a vitally important sector – we have been talking to unis and industry and they’re supportive of this program,” he said.

“The ball is now in the Federal Government’s court.”

The international students and workers would arrive “where possible” on commercial passenger flights, subject to “operational guidelines to be developed in consultation with COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria”.

The program would be subject to the same health and safety measures as the system for returned Australian arrivals.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would be worn by staff to the same standards as those in the health and complex care hotels. The Safe Workplace App would be used for contact tracing purposes.

Quarantine workers must have received at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in order to be employed.

The facilities used for the scheme would be subject to ventilation assessment and remediation works where required.

Mr Merlino has requested the Commonwealth Government to continue to expedite and issue visas and exemptions to travel restrictions to support the scheme.

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