This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has just escalated Australia’s lockdown measures, announcing that all arrivals into the country will no longer be allowed home for 14 days.
The new restrictions, which are set to come into effect by midnight on Saturday, aim to address “the increasing pressure of Australians coming home”, Morrison said. While until now Australians arriving into the country from overseas have only been required to self-isolate in their homes for the two-week period, anyone returning after this Saturday will have to be quarantined in separate accommodation—the cost of which will be handled by the states and territories.
“States and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through our airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities for the two weeks of their mandatory self-isolation before they are able to return to their home,” Morrison declared. “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 in Sydney, it will be in Sydney. If it’s Brisbane, and so on.”
The Prime Minister further indicated that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will be supporting states and territories with compliance checks for people who are already in self-isolation, in order to ensure no one is in breach of the measures that have been put in place.
“I thank the ADF for their great support in turning up to this task,” he said. “We believe these important actions are the most important we can take right now because of what you’ve done, Australia. By you getting on board with the changes you have needed to make, this means we can target our efforts even more into these areas, where we believe the most critical concern is right now.”
The Government’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, emphasised the importance of these measures by pointing to the significant number of travellers returning to Australia from overseas who have developed a COVID-19 infection.
“So, the Health Protection Principal Committee yesterday recommended to governments that the single most important thing we can do is completely stop the capacity for any returning traveller transmitting the virus,” Murphy said. “We would look after them when they get the virus, as some will do, as they continue to come home… [but] we can’t have anyone breaking the rules, being stupid, [or] being cavalier.”
Morrison said that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working to help Australians who are currently stranded overseas through no fault of their own—but that those who went travelling after warnings were in place will not be “high on the list of people we need to go and support”.