Coronavirus: As Australia steps up its travel restrictions, here's what you need to know

The Australian government has again stepped up travel restrictions as it responds to the coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what travellers need to know.

Qantas flight lands

South Korea joins Iran and mainland China on the government's travel ban in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Source: AAP

With the deadly coronavirus - also named Covid-19 - declared by the World Health Organisation as a public health emergency of international concern, the Australian government has warned that overseas travel has become “more complex.”

with the outbreak spreading to more than 75 countries and infecting more than 90 thousand people globally.

Travellers wait for their bags at Sydney airport
Australian evacuees who were quarantined on Christmas Island over concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus collect baggage at Sydney Airport in Sydney. Source: AAP

The majority of Covid-19 cases (more than 80,000) are in mainland China, but over 5,300 cases have been confirmed by the WHO in South Korea, 2,500 in Italy and 2,300 in Iran.

The government says Australians should “exercise normal safety precautions” when travelling to most countries and has advised sensible measures like good hygiene.

South Korea joins China and Iran on travel ban list

On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia’s travel ban had been expanded to include South Korea, with existing restrictions on China and Iran also extended.

The bans will be in place until Saturday 14 March, but the situation will be reviewed within a week to determine if it should be further extended.

Mr Morrison said the ban has been implemented because “it affords the best protection” and can slow down the rate of transmission.

South Korean soldiers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus in Seoul
South Korean soldiers wearing protective gears spray disinfectant as a precaution against the new coronavirus in Seoul, South Korea Source: AP

Under the restrictions, foreign nationals who are not Australian permanent residents and have been in any of the three countries will not be allowed to enter Australia within 14 days of leaving or transiting through mainland China, Iran or South Korea.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members will be able to enter but must isolate for 14 days after leaving.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has also advised that Australians reconsider travel to South Korea, and elevated its warning to a level four "do not travel" for Daegu in the country’s southeast.

Australians have also been advised to delay non-essential travel to 10 Italian towns in Lombardy and one in Veneto, while anyone travelling from anywhere in Italy will face advanced screening measures on arrival in Australia, which includes being asked questions by government officials and having their body temperature checked.

Advice to travellers

Elderly, sick and people with chronic diseases or underlying health conditions, have been advised by the WHO to delay or avoid travel to affected areas.

That message has also been echoed by the Australian government. It has said that even as the situation has worsened, simple measures can still minimise the risk of exposure. Among the advice is washing hands often with soap and water, and avoiding close contact with other people if you or they are unwell.

Person washing their hands
A person washes their hands with disinfectant Authorities worldwide have advised people to take basic measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus Source: ANP

“We've got ahead of it early and we intend to stay ahead of this," Mr Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

DFAT has continued to provide up to date advice and has warned travellers that authorities could change entry, exit and transit conditions at short notice. Likewise, cruise ship itineraries have changed in response to the COVID-19 and some countries may disallow passengers to disembark.

Visit  for more information on current warnings and advice.

3 min read
Published 5 March 2020 at 7:43pm
Source: SBS News