Australians will be banned from taking international flights as of Thursday 26 March in an unprecedented response to a sharp uptick in the number of reported coronavirus cases and the expectation this will surge even higher.
The ban, enabled by the Biosecurity Act 2015, "will help avoid travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus and the risks of spreading coronavirus to other countries", says Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The number of Australian COVID-19 cases roared past 2000 on Tuesday, doubling in the past three days.
Exemptions to the international travel ban, which will be managed by the Australian Border Force, include "citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds."
Additional nation-wide restrictions also put homes and businesses into a strict lockdown which will be enforced by police.
With the previous "do not travel overseas" warning replaced by a complete ban on travel, even more international airlines are tipped to suspend flights to Australia over the coming weeks.
In addition, Qantas and Virgin Australia – having previously moved to cancel all overseas routes from this weekend until at least June – are likely to further slash their domestic networks.