The Australian government will temporarily close the country’s borders from 9pm on Friday, 20 March 2020 (tonight). The travel ban affects all international travellers except Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members.
New Zealand already closed its borders to everyone except New Zealand citizens, residents, their partners and children, or air/ship crews. The New Zealand travel ban came into effect overnight.
The Australian government began imposing mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all travellers arriving in Australia from overseas on Monday to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Then, on Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) changed its travel advice for the entire world to level 4, or “do not travel”. This is the highest warning that the government can give.
The “do not travel” warning is different to an outright ban on Australians leaving the country. It is only advice, and Australians are still free to leave and return if they want. However, the availability of commercial flights to or from Australia will soon be greatly reduced. Both Qantas & Virgin Australia will suspend international flights from the end of this month, and many overseas airlines cutting flights. For this reason, DFAT advises Australians that are currently overseas and wish to return home to do so as soon as possible. Returning Australians will still be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Travel insurance implications of “do not travel” warning
In addition, most travel insurance will not cover you if you travel to a country that has an official DFAT “do not travel” warning in place. In fact, some travel insurance providers have already voided cover for all Australians that are currently overseas due to the level 4 warning.
If you are still in Australia and already have an overseas trip booked, however, this could be good news. With some airlines, hotels and tour operators reluctant to refund money for cancelled flights and lost bookings, the “do not travel” warning may now be enough to trigger travel insurance providers to pay for cancellation expenses.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: DFAT Warning [Do NOT Travel overseas]
Tasmania introduces mandatory 14-day self-isolation
Just days after Tasmania introduced arrival cards for interstate travellers, the Tasmanian state government has now announced that non-essential travellers arriving from mainland Australia to Tasmania will now also have to self-isolate for 14 days.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Tasmania introduces arrival cards (not a joke)