Travel measures have been tightened to counter the coronavirus spread as Australia fights against both an economic and health crisis.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said from midnight tomorrow, states and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through Australian airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities for the two weeks of their mandatory self-isolation.
The new measure steps up restrictions on returning Australians who signed the country’s isolation declaration card stating where they are going to isolate.
As part of the new restrictions, he said no traveller in isolation will be allowed back to their home state before their isolation period is up.
“If their home is in South Australia or in Perth or in Tasmania and they have arrived in Melbourne, they will be quarantining in Melbourne. If it’s Sydney, it will be in Sydney,” he said.
Members of the Defence Force will be brought in to enforce the new self-isolation requirements.
“The ADF will be supporting those states and territories with compliance checks to ensure that people are at their residences, that they have sworn they would be at, to ensure we get compliance with the self-isolation,” he said.
“Again, if there is a situation where people are non-compliant, of course the enforcement authority is the state jurisdiction and the relevant law enforcement agency in that state. But the ADF will be there to put boots on the ground, to support them in their enforcement efforts.
Mr Morrison said two-thirds of the nation’s 3000 cases are those who have returned home from overseas. Australia has reported 13 deaths from the coronavirus.
He said the states and territories would manage the arrangement for accommodation costs for returning travellers. He said New South Wales would face the biggest strain as it has the highest number of arrivals.
Businesses impacted by coronavirus restrictions
As well as battling the health crisis Mr Morrison said the federal government planned to “hibernate” Australian businesses to help shoulder the economic blow resulting from COVID-19 measures.
He said a third stimulus package, to be announced in coming days, would contain measures to ensure businesses can re-open down the track, kick starting the economy.
“The thing about an economy is your society does depend on it and so do governments,” Mr Morrison said.
“We want these businesses to effectively go into a hibernation, which means on the other side, the employees come back, the opportunities come back, the economy comes back,” he said.
“We’re in two fights, we are battling this on two fronts, we’re battling this virus… and we’re battling the economic crisis that is being caused because of a result of this coronavirus.”
He said addressing the issue of Australians facing rental hardship as a result of COVID-19 is a “high priority”, but is an issue that will need to be handled by individual states.
“These things will always remain the province of the states under the Constitution, but there is a lot of work being done together to try to get a consistent approach when it comes to residential tenancies,” he said.
“Residential tenancies are different to commercial tenancies, there are different landlords, different issues in place.
“It is an issue that is a high priority.”
Mr Morrison encouraged tenants to talk to their landlords, and landlords to talk to their banks.
Warns over lockdown talk
Mr Morrison also cautioned media outlets on their use of the word “lockdown”, saying Australians will be able to access essential supplies.
“When we talk about potential other restrictions, there is no need for people to rush out and cram supermarkets and do things like that, because of other restrictions that may become necessary,” he said.
“So, I would actually caution the media against using the word ‘lockdown’, because I think it does create unnecessary anxiety because that is not an arrangement that is actually being considered in the way that term might suggest.”
The PM said the government is looking to keep every service open that they can.
He said there will be no national decision regarding school closures, with state and territory governments to handle local closures based on school calendars.
He said while school attendance is down by 20 per cent in NSW, it is “many times higher” in states like South Australia and Tasmania.
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