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PM: Chances of Australians being jailed after returning from India 'pretty much zero'

PM: Chances of Australians being jailed after returning from India 'pretty much zero'
© Aaron Schwartz

Australia's prime minister said the chances of Australians being jailed after returning from India are “pretty much zero” after facing backlash for the country's new COVID-19 policy.

After India has seen record-breaking COVID-19 cases and deaths, Australia moved to ban travel from the country, saying Australians who travel home from India could receive a fine or jail time.

"I think the likelihood of any of that occurring is pretty much zero," Morrison said on Tuesday, Agence France-Presse reported.

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The travel restriction is in place from May 3 to May 15 and any Australian who breaks it could be fined up to 66,000 Australian dollars (more than $50,000), spend five years in jail or both.

There are around 9,000 Australians in India, including popular cricket stars who have accused the prime minister of having “blood on [his] hands.”

"Blood on your hands PM. How dare you treat us like this," Michael Slater, sports commentator and former cricketer, tweeted. "If our Government cared for the safety of Aussies they would allow us to get home."

Morrison said the tweet was “absurd” and that he is “working to bring them home safely,” according to AFP.

"The buck stops here when it comes to these decisions, and I'm going to take decisions that I believe are going to protect Australia from a third wave," Morrison added.

Others have called the new policy racist.

“The Government does not make these decisions lightly,” Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt said when the policy was announced. “However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level.”

Australia has had more than 29,000 reported coronavirus cases and more than 900 deaths.