By Amara Christa
Australia and New Zealand have both closed their borders to all visitors except for citizens and permanent residents and their close family members.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the press in Canberra on Thursday, adding that the travel ban means the deadline for any non-Australian-citizens or non-residents of Australia entering the country is Friday at 9 pm (1000 GMT).
Morrison said the travel ban was being put in place because about 80 per cent of the cases of coronavirus in Australia have come from either people returning from overseas or their relatives.
“Measures we have put in place have obviously put an impact on that. This is a further measure now that that can be further enhanced.’’
Australia has recorded at least 684 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the potentially fatal disease caused by the new coronavirus, with the number of new cases increasing each day.
Morrison had earlier announced a travel ban on Australians leaving the country.
“We have been thinking to align arrangements across the Tasman Sea and I appreciate the consultation that I’ve had with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in dealing with these issues.’’
Following Morrison’s announcement, Ardern also said that New Zealand was similarly closing its borders to all visitors in an attempt to stop the spread of the new coronavirus.
Some key health professionals are also exempted from the New Zealand ban.
Ardern said she was increasingly concerned visitors to New Zealand are not adequately self-isolating, adding that it was an unacceptable risk that New Zealand must end.’’
In both Australia and New Zealand, the ban on arrival includes all visitors as well as residents on temporary visas like students and skilled workers.
New Zealand confirmed on Thursday 18 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 48 hours, bringing the country’s total to 28.
The Ministry of Health said all of these related to overseas travel and there was no evidence of local transmission in New Zealand yet.
Earlier, the New Zealand government banned indoor events with more than 100 people, but it did not apply to workplaces, schools, supermarkets or public transport.