Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 April 2020

Coronavirus: Australia and New Zealand ban non-residents from arrival

The unprecedented restrictions will begin in the next two days

Australia will ban non-residents from arrival in the country in a bid to limit the coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

"A travel ban will be placed on all non-residents, non-Australian citizens coming to Australia, and that will be in place from 9:00 pm tomorrow evening," he said.

New Zealand has also moved to close its borders to any non-resident or non-citizen. It will come into effect at 11am GMT on Thursday.

“In no time in New Zealand’s history has a power like this been used. And I recognise how extraordinary it is," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “But we have to make decisions in the best interests of the health of those who live here. Whether they are young or old, newly arrived or permanent.”

Ms Ardern said there had been no evidence of a "community outbreak" in New Zealand, but all coronavirus cases in the country are related to people travelling and bringing the virus back with them.

She said her own “increasing concern” is that some tourists coming into the country since the strict 14-day self-isolation rules were brought in on Saturday, were not doing so.

This was an “unacceptable risk” to the country, she said.

New Zealand has so far reported 28 cases of the coronavirus. Ms Ardern said it was important to stem the outbreak before it got to the "tsunami" level it had in other countries.

“New Zealand has sought to stay ahead of the curve and make decisions prior to other countries, and we do so again,” she said.

Australia and New Zealand have announced a slew of restrictions to tackle the pandemic, but have so far stopped short of closing schools or instituting wider-ranging lockdowns.

Policymakers hope the bans will slow the rate of infection enough to avoid more draconian measures that would cripple the two economies and transform life for months to come.

Australia currently has 642 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with the total doubling roughly every three days.

Mr Morrison said around 80 per cent of Australia's coronavirus cases came from "someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas".

A recent opinion poll showed 69 per cent of Australians back closing the border.

Ms Ardern said the measures would also ban visa holders.

Updated: March 19, 2020 10:27 AM

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