Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced late on Tuesday night that Australia is now banning outright all overseas travel.
Previously, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advised against leaving the country.
Exceptions will be made for those providing aid work in the Pacific, on compassionate grounds and for essential employment.
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Morrison said the change was introduced because “there are people defying that advice and looking to go overseas on leisure travel”.
The new rules also included more stringent social distancing measurements, effectively stopping groups of people socialising, but didn’t extend to closing most shops.
The Prime Minister defended not imposing a tougher, British-style lockdown, saying, “Be careful what you wish for on something like that. Be very careful. Because that would need to be sustained for a very long time.
“And that could have a very significant and even more onerous impact on life in Australia. And we should seek to try to avoid that where it is possible.
“It is important for people to go to the shop. It is important to go to the shopping centre. It is important that they get access to these normal services. It is important for them, because they need it, it’s also important for our economy that it continues to operate and function as much as possible.”
As of Tuesday evening, Australia has 2,139 recorded cases of coronavirus and eight deaths.