Australia Closed To Tourists As PM Announces Travel Ban For Non-Residents
All non-residents will be denied entry to Australia from Friday night, in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that the travel ban would come into place from 9pm Friday.
It will mean that only citizens, residents or a direct family member will be allowed to enter Australia.
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"After further consultation with the national security committee this afternoon, tonight, we will be resolving to move to a position where a travel ban will be placed on all non-residents, non-Australian citizens coming to Australia, and that will be in place from 9pm tomorrow evening," he said.
Morrison noted that a large number of coronavirus cases in Australia had come from overseas, and that there had been a "significant" drop in international visitors since the previously-announced 14-day isolation period for people returning from overseas.
"It is about one-third of what it would normally be at this time of the year and we have seen reductions, even in the last few days, when we put in place the bans," he said.
"We believe it is essential to take a further step."
Foreign minister Marise Payne later tweeted that the ban would not apply to Australians abroad who wanted to come home, but said they would still have to abide by the previously-announced 14-day self-isolation upon return.
"Australia will not allow the entry of people who are not citizens, permanent residents or their immediate families. This is a necessary further measure to slow the spread of #COVID2019," she tweeted.
The federal government will also pour billions into Australian small business, in a desperate effort to stave off recession and spiking unemployment during the coronavirus crisis.
Morrison announced the huge rescue package on Thursday, just an hour after the Reserve Bank announced a slashing of interest rates to an unprecedented low of 0.25 percent.
"There will be impacts and we will be seeking also to cushion the impact along the journey," Morrison said of the government's measures.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said "extraordinary times require extraordinary measures" before announcing a financial assistance package of $15 billion "to invest in residential mortgage-backed securities as together with other asset-backed securities".
When asked about whether the government was talking to banks about not foreclosing on mortgages as homeowners battle economic downturn, Morrison replied "that's exactly what we're working on".
Frydenberg called on banks to "be very generous towards their customers at this difficult time, because it is in the banks' interests, it is in the economy's interests, it's in Australia interests that the banks stand by their small business customers."
"The Australian financial system remains strong but the measures announced by the Morrison Government today and the Reserve Bank, and the prudential regulator, will even enhance this strength further," Frydenberg said.