Advice to Australians not to travel overseas will become a full-blown travel ban, starting tomorrow.
Announcing a raft of new measures and restrictions designed to curb the country’s coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Scott Morrison tonight announced Aussies would no longer be allowed to leave the country.
“We have previously had a do-not-travel warning on smart traveller in terms of all overseas travel — that will turn into a ban,” Mr Morrison said.
“People shouldn’t be doing it right now, that is the advice. No one should be getting on a plane and going overseas. We have been making the point for some time.
“The direction is being worked on overnight. As soon as that direction is signed off by the Health Minister, it will come into force then and that will happen tomorrow.”
He said there would be exceptions set out in the directive that would include people providing aid work to the Pacific, compassionate travel and essential work travel.
Mr Morrison said the ban was necessary because of a small number of Aussies defying the advice. He said he was struck by how many Australians were still going overseas, even though the number had “reduced dramatically”.
“The number of people and the number who are leaving Australia now is very, very low. But still, it strikes me on those numbers there are people defying that advice and looking to go overseas on leisure travel,” the PM said.
“They can’t, because when they come home they put Australians at risk. I thought that would have been fully complied with and Australians are pretty good but we need to put the arrangements in place.”
RELATED: PM reveals tough new restrictions
RELATED: All the things banned in Australia
Mr Morrison also had harsh words for Australians returning to the country who were flouting self-isolation rules.
“All those who are arriving —and the numbers who are arriving, are falling each day —all of them are required to go into self-isolation by public health order at a state level. They are required to do it. It’s the law,” he said.
“That’s where they need to go. That’s where they need to transfer to immediately, not to go via the shops, not to pop in and see a friend on the way home, not to go for a wander around the park.
“You go straight home and you self-isolate for 14 days. That is the law. That is the major protection that we have. That applies to every body, every Australian, returning citizen or resident.”
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy echoes Mr Morrison’s disappointment, pleading with returning Australians to “stay at home”.
“Don’t go anywhere on the way from the airport or the cruise ship or wherever you are coming from,” Prof Murphy said.
“That is so important. The other thing that is important, if you are identified as the contact of a case and you are told that by a state and public official, and you are told to isolate for 14 days, you must isolate.”
Prof Murphy said some people were being told they had tested positive for the virus, but were still stopping at the supermarket or chemist on their way home.
“If you are isolating because you are a positive case or you’re a contact, you go home and you isolate and you obey those rules. That is a really, really important part of the control,” he said.