COVID-19 and Australia: Travel restrictions and more
Australia is battling the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, just like most other countries around the world. At the time of writing, Australia has imposed travel restrictions and a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving visitors, and has limited public gatherings to a maximum of two people.
Below we’ll elaborate on these and other measures the Australian government has taken in an effort to address the challenges posed by the coronavirus.
Only Australian citizens, residents and their immediate family members can travel to Australia. On arrival, all travellers must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in a hotel or designated facility. The relevant state or territory government will determine which hotels and facilities will serve as quarantine sites.
Immediate family members
As mentioned above, immediate family members may still travel to Australia. These family members are:
- Dependent children
- Legal guardians
Partners (subclasses 100, 309, 801, 820) and children (subclasses 101, 102, 445) won’t have to apply for an exemption. Unfortunately, Prospective Marriage visa holders (subclass 300) can’t go to Australia until further notice.
Immediate family members on temporary visas, except for Partner and Child visa holders, must apply for a travel exemption to Australia. The Department of Home Affairs will decide whether or not the person can go to Australia.
If an immediate family member does not have a visa, the person will have to apply for a visa before travelling to Australia and provide proof of their relationship to the Australian citizen or permanent resident.
Please note that the exemption or visa applicant should not travel to Australia until the exemption or visa is approved.
Travelling from Australia
Australian citizens and permanent residents are restricted from travelling overseas as of 25 March 2020. There are certain exceptions however and this travel restriction does not apply to:
- People ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia.
- Airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers.
- New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa.
- Persons engaged in the day-to-day conduct of outbound and inbound freight.
- People whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities.
- People travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force.
- Travel restrictions are subject to change. Some exemptions are in place. Please check back regularly.
Public gatherings restricted to a maximum of two people
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that public gathering are limited to a maximum of two people as of Monday, 30 March. He urged people to stay at home unless they were shopping for food and other essentials, attending medical appointments, exercising, or attending work or education.
Prime Minister Morrison also advised that people aged 70 and over should stay at home and self-isolate for their own protection. The same advice, he said, applies to people over 60 with a chronic illness and indigenous people over the age of 50.
To limit public gatherings, a number of public facilities are now also closed from the 30th of March. These facilities include, but are not limited to:
- Pubs and restaurants (except for takeaways)
- Movie theatres
- Public playgrounds
- Outdoor sporting venues
- Entertainment venues.
Some retail outlets will remain open, however, to allow people to gather essential items ahead of further social distancing restrictions.
The goal of these restrictions is to isolate confirmed cases and make it easier to trace the contacts of people who tested positive for the coronavirus.
No evictions for 6 months and a safety-net package of AU$1.1 billion
Many people are without an outcome or have lost their jobs as a direct effect of the coronavirus outbreak. The Australian government has thus announced that evictions will be put on hold for 6 months by states and territories. The government has also encouraged landlords and tenants to talk about short-term agreements.
Further to this, the Australian government has announced an AU$1.1 billion package to assist the millions of Australians battling the devastating impacts of the coronavirus. The money will be used to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence service, and provide Medicare assistance for people at home as well as more emergency food relief to those in need.
See the Department of Home Affairs’s website for more
The Department of Home Affairs regularly updates their website to reflect the latest news on travel restrictions and other measures they have taken. Just go here to stay updated.
If you have an urgent immigration query, you can still contact Australia’s Department of Home Affairs by any of the contact details on their website.