From 9pm on Friday evening, March 20, Australia with close its borders to anyone arriving who is not an Australian citizen or resident, the prime minister announced today. He also urged all Australians overseas to come home as soon as possible, adding that Qantas would be working with the government to help Aussies abroad to return, although they will still be subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine put in place earlier this week.
The announcement is yet another major blow to Australia’s hospitality and travel industries, which rely on the large annual influx of tourists across the spring, summer and autumn months. Morrison said that 80 per cent of the cases diagnosed thus far could be traced back to overseas visitors, saying the overwhelming evidence suggested that preventing the infection from being “imported” into Australia was the nation's best hope for stopping the spread of COVID-19.
The PM also addressed the widespread issue of panic buying, which continues to leave shortages of certain essential goods such as toilet paper, hand sanitiser, meat and frozen veg. “There is no issue with food supply in Australia, but there is an issue with the behaviour of Australians in supermarkets,” Scott Morrison said, before urging the Australian public to show more consideration for one another when shopping.