All Australians returning from overseas will be quarantined in government-designated facilities such as hotels from today. The new rule, designed to eliminate any possibility of returning travellers passing on COVID-19, came into effect from 11.59pm on Saturday 28 March 2020.
Australians arriving back from overseas have been required to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival since 16 March 2020. But, until now, travellers were free to return home after landing back in the country. They were also permitted to take a domestic flight to their final destination in Australia if they lived somewhere other than their point of international arrival. I wrote about the new Australian COVID-19 arrival procedures last Friday.
But from today, travellers returning to Australia will be processed and then transferred immediately on buses to a government-designated quarantine location in their city of international arrival. Travellers will not be permitted to continue to their final destination (even if it’s in a different state), nor to return home or see friends & family, until the 14-day quarantine period is over. The public has been told not to go to the airport to greet their loved ones, as it will not be possible to see them.
In announcing the decision on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the number of international arrivals is now at a low enough level that the quarantine policy is practical to implement. Australia’s borders have been closed to everyone except Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members, since 20 March. Australians have also been temporarily banned from leaving the country, unless it is essential, since 25 March 2020.
Australia is not the only country to be implementing such a policy. For example, Vietnam has already been placing arriving passengers in quarantine camps for almost two weeks as it fights to stop the coronavirus spreading in Vietnam.
Quarantine policy a lifeline for hotels
Arriving travellers will be sent to “nominated hotels” over the coming weeks. Meals and “self-isolation care packs” will be provided to those in quarantine.
The Caravan Industry Association of Australia says that empty caravan parks are also available to be used near the international airports in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.
It appears that state governments will bear the cost of quarantining arriving passengers for two weeks, although the federal government will assist with transport, Border Force and Australian Defence Force personnel.
Although the main purpose of the quarantine policy is to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it will also stimulate the struggling hotel and hospitality sector. Hotel occupancy rates are currently at record lows.
The government has not revealed a full list of hotels that will be used to quarantine Australian travellers, but some Intercontinental Hotels – which closed to the public this weekend – are likely to be on the list. Quest Hotels has also offered 80 properties to assist with quarantine efforts.
Tasmania to quarantine “non-essential arrivals” from midnight
The Tasmanian government has also introduced a similar policy of its own. From midnight tonight (i.e. 11.59pm on Sunday 29 March 2020), all “non-essential” arriving passengers in Tasmania will be quarantined in state-run facilities. This includes Tasmanians returning home from interstate, and will also include returning international passengers that have already been quarantined at their point of entry in Australia for 14 days.
As Tasmanian newspaper The Mercury famously splashed on its front page last week, Tasmania has a moat and it’s not afraid to use it!
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: PM announced that all international travelers will be quarantined in hotels or designated facilities, starting from Sunday