Coronavirus lockdown: Australia closes its borders

Australia's borders will be shut to all foreign visitors, with only Australian citizens and residents allowed in.

By Chris Chamberlin, March 19 2020
Coronavirus lockdown: Australia closes its borders

Australia will close its borders to non-residents from 9pm Friday, March 20, in the latest escalation of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate families will still be allowed to enter Australia, but will remain subject to 14 days of self-isolation. After 9pm on Friday, new visitors to the country will not be accepted.

International departures from Australia are not affected by this ban, which applies only to inbound flights.

The past 24 hours have seen both Qantas and Virgin Australia announce plans to suspend all international flights from the end of March until May-June 2020, and coronavirus-related bans and 'do not travel' orders shut down the global travel market.

Speaking to media, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that this notice period "will enable, over the next 24 hours or so, for people to make other arrangements if they were intending to come to Australia," or to arrive before the deadline.

"We won’t have, in the vast majority of cases, people finding themselves on planes headed here unless they were going along a rather protracted route, and that means they’ll be able to make other arrangements."

Morrison outlined that this decision was made because "around 80% of the (coronavirus) cases we have in Australia are either the result of someone who contracted the virus overseas, or someone who has had direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas."

Australians overseas should return home now, says DFAT

The Australian Government is working with Qantas to ensure appropriate international flights are maintained for the time being that would assist Australians in returning to Australia.

"It is our intention to maintain flights so that (Australians) can come home as soon as possible," adds the Prime Minister.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has this week been advising those Australians still overseas and wanting to return home to do so as soon as possible, with every country in the world now zoned as 'do not travel' by Smartraveller.

New Zealand also shutters its borders

New Zealand will also close its borders from midnight tonight, New Zealand time, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has advised, with non-residents and non-New Zealand citizens unable to enter the country.

This will replace New Zealand's previous policy of allowing international visitors, but requiring them to remain in 14 days of self-isolation.

International visitors who arrive before the deadline will still need to self-isolate, as will all returning New Zealand citizens and residents, even after the border closes to visitors.

Tasmania adopts new interstate travel restrictions

All domestic passengers travelling from Mainland Australia into Tasmania after 11:59pm on Friday March 20 will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they haven't been overseas.

Only "essential" travellers will be exempt from isolation, such as those working in the health industry or facilitating trade.

"We know that for some it will create disruption, but our aim is to ensure that we protect the health, wellbeing and safety of Tasmanians," said Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein.

"We would ask people to work with us as we implement these measures and as they are managed over coming weeks."

All travellers to Tasmania will be required to complete a 'Tasmanian arrivals card', declaring their travel history, flight information, and where they plan to remain isolated in Tasmania.

This includes visitors to the state, as well as residents returning home from Mainland Australia.

Passengers travelling from Tasmania to other Australian states, who were not already under self-isolation, are not required to isolate themselves upon arrival in the Mainland.

This restriction only applies to people arriving into Tasmania.

Also read: Coronavirus: how to self-isolate

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jan 2017

Total posts 14

That's gonna help with my insurance claim for my US trip! If the borders are shut I can not go!

Just for clarity, the restriction is that visitors will not be allowed into Australia from tomorrow night. Australians can still enter and depart, although the Government's advice for all international travel from Australia remains at "do not travel".

(This is advice, but not an outright 'ban' as it's been described elsewhere.)

The USA has its own border restrictions, however, including on travellers who have recently visited the UK and Europe.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 403

More likely the government's "Do Not Travel" advice will be helpful for your insurance. The borders are not shut - Australians can still depart and the US is still accepting arrivals. The problem will be the lack of flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Dec 2016

Total posts 15

Is there any definition of "immediate family." I would need to bring my live-in fiancée who is a US citizen. It's very unclear.

dlam, assuming you are both currently in the US, you will need to contact the nearest Australian embassy or consulate and explain your exact circumstances, to see if your fiancée will qualify for entry. No airline will uplift her unless she has a specific visa in the system which permits her entry into Australia under the new restrictions.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

20 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

I think this is a great time for the A380 fleet to come into its own. They should all be turned into freighters to ferry essential goods around the world. Just a thought, but makes sense.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Coronavirus lockdown: Australia closes its borders