Returning travellers will be placed in enforced quarantine for 14 days, instead of self-isolating at home, with the Australian Defence Force now also enlisted to ensure all arrivals self-isolate as part of the latest measures in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
The new restrictions will see returned travellers housed in hotels, motels, caravan parks, and student accommodation for their 14-day self-isolation period.
Prime minister Scott Morrison said overseas arrivals will be forced into quarantines, with the cost of their accommodation in places such as hotels to be covered by the states, in his Friday announcement.
Travellers will now be required to quarantine in their city of arrival, irrespective of where they live.
“The costs of accommodation, public health and security will be covered by each individual jurisdiction.”
The national cabinet also agreed that the defence force will be engaged to support the implementation of the two week self-isolation of new arrivals.
Most Australian cases—up to two thirds—have been the result of travellers returning from overseas, who then pass it onto close contacts.
The national cabinet agreed that all states and territories will put in place the enforced quarantine measures of arrivals through airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities for the two weeks, effective from Saturday midnight.
There were 7120 people who arrived back to Australia on Thursday.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews was quick to announce the state had secured up to 5000 hotel rooms on Friday.
“The Victorian government is working closely with the Australian Hotels Association and other organisations so all returned travellers can be housed safely and securely,” Andrews said.
“If you can stay home, you must stay home. If you don’t, people will die,” Andrews said.
The announcement comes as the Hotels Association, Australia’s peak accomodation body, said that major hotels in Australia’s capital cities are shutting due to latest restrictions in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
“This is a devastating time for our sector—and sadly things are set to get even tougher before the eventual recovery,” Tourism Accommodation Australia chief executive Michael Johnson said on Friday.
“Many hotels in our CBDs and regional locations have sadly been left with no option as tourist numbers collapse and occupancies drop under 10 per cent,” he said.
Johnson added that closed venues had expressed interest to New South Wales Health in supporting the community as “medi-hotels”, and that there was “a lot of interest in helping wherever possible” during the crisis.
While the prime minister disagreed with the use of the term “shut down”, the next phase of the restrictions would be stage three.
There are 575,444 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 202 countries around the globe, as of Sunday morning.