The Australian Government is now advising against all but essential international travel, regardless of overseas destination, as the coronavirus continues its spread across the globe.
Except for countries already zoned as "do not travel" – the highest warning level available, as continues to apply to China, Iran and more – all others will see a "reconsider your need to travel" warning put into place.
Speaking to media today, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that “only essential travel should be considered if you are going overseas from this point forward, and we would encourage Australians to heed that advice."
“If your travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time,” Morrison added, while reminding that the advice applies “regardless of your destination, age or health.”
Australia’s Smartraveller website, operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), now provides an overview of this advice, labelling the situation as a “crisis”.
DFAT confirmed to Executive Traveller that “we're in the process of updating all the individual advice” levels for each country. “Every country will be either level 3 or level 4," meaning either reconsider your need to travel, or do not travel.
That's correct, every country will be either level 3 or level 4.— Smartraveller (@Smartraveller) March 13, 2020
Smartraveller explains that the advice is being issued not only because you may be more exposed to the virus overseas, but also because international travel is becoming highly unpredictable with many countries imposing travel restrictions on visitors – which often commence or change at short notice – and due to the risk of being placed in quarantine.
“You may come in contact with more people than usual, including during long-haul flights and in crowded airports. Health care systems in some countries will come under strain and may not be as well-equipped as Australia’s. You may not have your normal support networks overseas,” Smartraveller reads.
In recent days a number of other countries have imposed new travel restrictions, with the United States banning all visitors who have been in the European Schengen Area within 14 days of their US-bound flight, and both India and Bhutan closing their borders to tourists.
Earlier today, Virgin Australia outlined reductions to both domestic and international flights in response to the coronavirus and generally weaker travel demand.