Australia will enforce its strictest ever travel restrictions in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Passengers arriving by plane will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, while cruise ships will be banned from docking for 30 days.
“This is very important – what we’ve seen in recent weeks is more countries having issues with the virus, and that means that the source from some of those transmissions comes from more and more countries,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
The Prime Minister stressed that everyone must self-isolate, even if they haven’t been to the more severely-affected countries like China or Italy.
“If your mate has been to Bali, and they come to work and sit next to you, they’ll be committing an offence,” he said.
The policy will apply from midnight tonight, and will be reviewed each week.
#BREAKING: Australian Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP announces all international travellers to Australia will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days. #auspol @10NewsFirst @10NewsFirstSyd @10Daily pic.twitter.com/WTrMkGbi5a
— Michael Hammond (@mhammond7) March 15, 2020
Acting Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly described the measures as “a proportionate response.”
“There is no herd immunity, everyone is susceptible to this virus in Australia, and that’s why these unusual and proportionate measures are being taken,” he said, adding that European nations such as Italy and Spain had not acted early enough.
The travel ban is similar to that recently announced by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, which was considered to be the strongest travel ban in the world. Several Pacific island nations have implemented similar policies.
Under the Australian plan, an exception will be made for Pacific Islanders to transit through Australia on their way back to their home countries.
The government is also working on restrictions regarding visits to nursing homes and remote Indigenous communities, and will announce guidelines in the coming days.