Anyone who arrives back in Australia from overseas will be ordered to self isolate in a hotel for two weeks before they can return to their own home.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the strict new quarantine laws at a press conference in Canberra on Friday, following a lengthy national cabinet meeting.
The tough new measures, enforced to help stop the spread of coronavirus in Australia, will officially come into effect at 11.59pm on Saturday.
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This means that from midnight tomorrow, all Australians returning from overseas will be placed into quarantine at a hotel or other accommodation facility in whatever city they land in.
After 14 days, travellers will then be allowed to return to their own homes.
Anyone landing back in the country is required to fill out a coronavirus declaration card, where they list their address of residence and phone number so that officers can ensure they are self-isolating.
This is enforceable by law and anyone who does not comply will be fined.
The Prime Minister also announced this afternoon that members of the Defence Force will be brought in to assist officers with making sure those are required to self-isolate do so.
“In addition to the arrival declaration, by no later than midnight tomorrow states and territories will be quarantining all arrivals in our airports in hotels and other facilities for the mandatory self-isolation period before they are able to return to their home,” Mr Morrison said.
“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.”
He said that “the number of arrivals now are at a level which the states and territories believe they are able to practically implement these types of arrangements.”
“To give you an idea, yesterday there were 7,120 arrivals at our airports around the country.
“To give you an idea of what that was this same time last year, it was 48,725,” Mr Morrison said.
A plan to help Australian businesses “hibernate” through the crisis so that they can come out on the other side is also expected to be announced in the coming days.
“The idea is simple… there are businesses which will have to close their doors,” the Prime Minister said.
“They will have to keep them closed either because we have made it necessary for them to do so, or simply there is just not the business to keep their doors open.
“We want those businesses to start again. And we do not want, over the course of the next six months or as long as it takes, for those businesses to be so saddled by debt, so saddled by rental payments, so saddled by other liabilities, that they will not be able to start again on the other side.”
During Friday’s update on the situation, the Prime Minister also urged people to avoid using the word “lockdown”, saying it was creating unnecessary panic.
“I would caution against the way people talk about this word “lockdown”, and the reason I’d say it is this. I know you meant it innocently.
“I don’t want to give people, none of the premiers do, the idea that this is going to be someplace we might get to, where people can’t go out and get essential supplies, that they can’t get the things they need to actually live life for the next six months.”
Mr Morrison said he is “deeply concerned” about the devastating impact the virus is having on the economy.
“I am watching closely and am deeply concerned by the devastating impact on our economy. Every day someone is in a job for just another day is worth fighting for. Every day I can keep an Australian in work, the more we can do that, everyday matters,” he said.
Australians are being praised for the way they have taken on the messages from the Federal Government in the past week.
“We simply want to say to you Australia, Thank you… Keep doing it, you’re saving lives and you’re saving livelihoods.
“You have encouraged us greatly, and you’ve encouraged us by the way in which you have taken this on… We have called on you as Australians to combine together in this effort and your response over the past week has been simply magnificent.
“We always knew Australians were up to this test and you’re proving it each and every day. Lets keep doing it Australia and we will continue to get through this together.”