As the battle to contain COVID-19 in Australia continues, the Australian Government has agreed to introduce new travel restrictions, update travel advice and implement new screening measures as part of coordinated measures to protect Australians from the virus.

The Australian Government said its highest priority remains the wellbeing and safety of Australians.

These actions are based on advice that the volume of reported COVID-19 cases in the Republic of Korea, and the scale of travel to Australia from the Republic of Korea, means that they present a high risk of further transmission of COVID-19 in Australia. Therefore, screening measures alone would not be sufficient for the Republic of Korea.

For arrivals from Italy, the Government will implement enhanced health screening and temperature testing arrangements.

These measures are part of ongoing strategy of containment and minimising risk to the Australian community as detailed in the Government’s pandemic preparedness plan. 

As of 5 March 2020:

  • Foreign nationals (excluding permanent residents of Australia) who are in the Republic of Korea on or after today will not be allowed to enter Australia for 14 days from the time they have left or transited through the Republic of Korea
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents will still be able to enter Australia, as will their immediate family members (spouses, legal guardians or dependants only). They will be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day they left the Republic of Korea
  • The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will raise the level of the travel advisory for the Republic of Korea to ‘reconsider your need to travel’ (level 3 of 4) up from ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ (level 2)

The level of the travel advice will also be raised to ‘do not travel’ to Daegu (level 4 of 4) because of the significant outbreak of COVID-19 there. People in the Republic of Korea should monitor their health closely and follow the advice of local authorities.

Travellers from the Republic of Korea constitute at this time a materially greater risk of COVID-19 importation than other countries outside of China and Iran.

The travel restrictions for the Republic of Korea will now be consistent with those in place for China and Iran.

The aim of these measures is to slow the importation of COVID-19 cases into Australia to enable preparatory measures to continue and to enable a public health response to the initial cases.

The current travel restrictions regarding mainland China and Iran continue to be successful in reducing the volume of travellers from those countries and will continue.

As part of the Australian Government’s preparedness response beyond the health system, it has also activated the National Coordination Mechanism. The mechanism will coordinate activities across the Commonwealth, state and territory governments as well as industry to ensure a consistent national approach is taken to provide essential services across a range of critical sectors and supply chains.

While Australia is not immune as a country, the Government is working to ensure it is as well prepared as it can possibly be.

The Australian Government continues to monitor and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak as it evolves.