Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lifted the country’s travel ban to a level four, the highest, advising Australians not to leave the country.
Prime Minister Morrison said, “That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia’s history.
“The travel advice to every Australian is ‘Do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas.’ That is a very clear instruction. For those who are thinking of going overseas in the school holidays, don’t. Don’t go overseas.”
All Australians who wish to return home are urged to do so as soon as possible. This advice comes as many countries around the world have introduced border closures and/or travel restrictions, including Australia.
With Australian and international carriers cutting down on connections, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advice also notes that commercial options may become less available.
Speaking yesterday, Prime Minister Morrison said the outbreak was a “once in a hundred years type of event”.
“We haven’t seen this sort of thing in Australia since the end of the First World War,” he added.
#COVID19: We now advise you not to travel overseas. If you wish to return to Australia, do so ASAP by commercial means. If you can’t or decide not to, follow the advice of local authorities & minimise your risk of exposure, incl through self-isolation. https://t.co/GtDNz3JEyE pic.twitter.com/oESLILJQ1E
— Smartraveller (@Smartraveller) March 17, 2020
The statement stresses that Australians wishing to remain overseas should follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians overseas are also urged to consider whether they will have access to healthcare and support systems. The elevation of DFAT travel advice could void travel insurance policies.
The government urged Australians to consider whether they have access to health care and support systems if they get sick while overseas.
On 17 March, Foreign Minister Marise Payne decided to offer voluntary departures for all non-essential overseas diplomatic staff. Dependants and staff at high risk due to underlying health conditions have also been recalled.