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Passengers must now isolate in hotels, with army enforcing rules

written by Adam Thorn | March 27, 2020

Passengers landing in Australia will now be transferred from arrivals to a hotel to complete their 14-day isolation period – with the Defence Force checking people comply with the measures.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement because 85 per cent of cases of coronavirus are directly or indirectly acquired from overseas.

The plan is for citizens to stay in accommodation in the city where they arrive, with Victoria already indicated they have 5,000 rooms ready. Under the previous rules, people went back to their homes and signed a declaration committing to not leaving for two weeks.

Prime Minister Morrison said, “We believe these important actions are the most important we can take right now because of what you’ve done, Australia.”

The exact new rules were released to the media shortly after the prime minister spoke. They read:

  • Travellers will be transported directly to designated facilities after appropriate immigration, customs and enhanced health checks.
  • Designated facilities will be determined by the relevant state or territory government and will ordinarily be in the city of entry where the traveller has cleared immigration, but facilities in other areas may be used if required.
  • These requirements will be implemented under state and territory legislation and will be enforced by state and territory governments, with the support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) where necessary.
  • The Commonwealth will provide support through the ABF and ADF for these arrangements across Australia, and that states and territories would meet the costs and determine any contributions required for travellers arriving within their jurisdictions.
  • Air and maritime crews will be required to continue to undertake the existing precautions they are following where they self-isolate in their accommodation if they enter Australia until their next work voyage.
  • The ADF will begin assisting state and territory governments to undertake quarantine compliance checks of those who are required to be in mandatory isolation after returning from overseas.
  • ADF personnel will bolster local police efforts in visiting the homes and residences of Australians who are in mandatory isolation as directed by state and territory governments and will report to the local police whether the identified individual was at the residence.


The Prime Minister also congratulated the public on adhering to the new strict social distancing rules, after previously scolding the country after pictures emerged of revellers gathering on Bondi beach.

PM Morrison said, “We believe these important actions are the most important we can take right now because of what you’ve done, Australia.

Canberra Airport's international border clearance. (Canberra Airport/Twitter)
Canberra Airport’s international border clearance. (Canberra Airport/Twitter)

“By you getting on board with the changes you have needed to make, this means we can target our efforts even more into these areas, where we believe the most critical concern is right now.

“Thank you, keep doing it, you’re saving lives and you’re saving livelihoods.”

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Comments (7)

  • Rosemary Sutherland


    I thought it was a good idea until I see they put them in an Ibis hotel for 14 days. That’s the same as an enclosed cabin on a cruise liner. I can’t see this having a good outcome unless they get these travelers to hotels with independent air conditioning and a balcony for fresh air.

  • David


    The defence force is set up to fight wars, not to undertake law enforcement amongst the civilian population. This is a very dangerous precedent.

  • Ken


    The civlian population’s record so far is atrocious; don’t you think the virus is dangerous, sport, or will these measures limit your activities on Bondia or St Kilda? Good grief.

  • Stu


    Nice thought David. And if we lived under a military dictatorship i’d be concerned. But the truth is our defence force spends much of its active time fighting bushfires or floods, and providing aid to communities in Australia and our region of the world after disasters of all sorts. I doubt we’ll be invaded by anyone in the next couple of months, so this seems like a very wise use of a great resource.
    Personally i’m more concerned about the mental health issues of those in isolation. As Rosemary noted above – 2 weeks shut in a cheap hotel room is the dangerous precedent!

  • David Carey


    I am suggesting that other countries that use their military for civilian law enforcement are in fact military dictatorships or taking steps in that direction. The use of people in camouflaged uniforms with automatic and other heavy weapons is way beyond what is needed for law enforcement and undermines civilian faith in government.

    It is better to invest in improved fire brigades and other emergency services to fight floods and fires. Militaries are not optimised for this sort of work.

    • kurt


      I have never seen the military harnessing weaponry on a civilian program. I do not think they will have weapons. I don’t think it has ever really been the case here in Australia, other than in terrorism exercises for big events like the G-20 or Olympics. The military, in particular SAS snipers, were not even called in for the lint cafe attack due to rules that were in place at the time, although there will be exemptions if there were ever such an incident in the future which in my opinion is a good thing.

  • Frank


    Claims that ADF members are engaged in law enforcement activities are false! ADF members are monitoring people in isolation, enuring they are safe and conducting health checks as required. Don’t forget that we have ADF medical cability.
    ADF personnel are bound to report breaches to state police who do the law enforcement. ADF members have no mandate or right to enforce any law in this case and are not employed as defacto police.
    Or federal legislation enbales states and territories as well as the federal governemtn to drav on ADF resources in times of national need. This is neither some sort of slippery slope to authoritarianism or an over reach of political power. It is a reaction to a situation of high national significance that requires a whole of governement response. The ADF are part of that response.

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