Prime Minister Scott Morrison has moved to effectively close Australian borders, issuing a formal ban on all incoming travel by non-citizens and residents that will come into effect from 9pm tomorrow night.

As part of escalating action aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Australia, Morrison this afternoon announced that all incoming passengers who are not citizens, residents, or close family members of those will be barred from entering the country.

Fronting media a short time ago in Canberra, Morrison stated “we will be resolving to move to a position where a travel ban will be placed on all non-residents, non-Australian citizens coming to Australia, and that will be in place from 9pm tomorrow evening.”

Noting the announcements from Qantas and Virgin Australia – both of whom have moved to suspend all international flights from the end of the month – Morrison asserted “We have already seen a significant reduction in the travel to Australia by non- citizens and residents. It is about one-third of what it would normally be at this time of the year and we have seen reductions, even in the last few days, when we put in place the bands which require people to self isolate for 14 days.”

The PM confirmed the escalated travel bans had been made in consultation with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and are timed to allow non-citizens and residents with existing plans to travel to Australia to make other arrangements.

Australian citizens living or holidaying abroad will still be permitted to return to Australia, and will be subject to the pre-existing 14-day mandatory self-quarantine.

In explaining the decision, Morrison stated “about 80% of the [coronavirus] cases we have in Australia [are the result of] someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas.”

The new regulations come into effect from 9pm tomorrow night.

Image: AAP