Coronavirus restrictions are expected to make it challenging to bring in the international firefighting aircraft and crews that Australia needs in the coming bushfire season.

Emergency Management Victoria deputy commissioner Chris Stephenson says the possible impact on international assistance, particularly in terms of aircraft, is an issue across Australia.

“One of the real issues or constraints for the country at the moment is international assistance and what that might look like if required this bushfire season,” Mr Stephenson told the natural disasters royal commission.

The NSW and Tasmanian fire services also say the pandemic will likely affect the provision of aerial firefighting services this fire season, as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements may affect the availability of international pilots and maintenance crews.

“Australia cannot provide enough aircraft alone,” Tasmania Fire Service chief officer Chris Arnol said on Thursday.

“It needs to have overseas aircraft and crews coming to this country to support us in our firefighting efforts.”

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