The Australian government has banned Australian citizens from travelling overseas until further notice, with some limited exceptions. The ban was announced last night and came into effect from midday today, on 25 March 2020.
Last week, the federal government strongly advised against all overseas travel. In doing so, it updated its travel advice for the entire world to “do not travel”. However, until today, Australians had only been strongly discouraged – and not banned – from leaving the country.
Many airlines have already stopped flying to Australia or will shortly suspend services. Emirates and Etihad Airways are the latest airlines to pull out of Australia, suspending all flights from yesterday. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia will stop all scheduled international flights by the end of this week. Thai Airways and Japan Airlines are also now on the list of airlines that will shortly suspend service to Australia.
Australians that are still overseas are permitted to return to Australia. However, the (lack of) availability of commercial flights will soon become a real problem for anyone that genuinely needs to travel to or from Australia. From next month, there will likely be just a small handful of commercial international flights available.
Last week, the government already banned anyone except for Australian citizens, permanent residents, their immediate family members, and on-duty airline crews, from entering Australia. Anyone arriving from overseas is required to self-isolate for two weeks.
The temporary Australian overseas travel ban has been enacted under the Biosecurity Act 2015. The government has not yet given an end date.
A small number of other countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, have also banned their citizens from leaving the country in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Exemptions to Australia’s overseas travel ban
Some Australian travellers will be exempt from this travel ban, at the discretion of Australian Border Force, including:
- Australian citizens that normally live overseas
- Cases where the Australian Border Force deems travel is necessary or essential
- Cases where travel is in the national interest
- Compassionate and humanitarian grounds
Australian Frequent Flyer has set up a new forum for news & discussion about COVID-19: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Discussion