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Travel advice and restrictions related to COVID-19

15-minute read

IMPORTANT: If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history and any close contact with a person with confirmed or probable COVID-19.

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From midnight 25 March 2020, the Australian government has banned overseas travel, unless necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons. For more information, go to the Smartraveller website.

Should I travel overseas?

To help stop the spread of COVID-19, from midnight 25 March 2020, the Australian government has banned overseas travel, unless necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons. This is because:

  • There may be a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas.
  • Healthcare systems in some countries may be under pressure and may not be as well-equipped as Australia to support foreigners.
  • Overseas travel has become complex and unpredictable. Many countries are introducing entry or movement restrictions. These are changing often and quickly, and your travel plans could be disrupted.

For more information about restrictions on travel to Australia, visit the Department of Home Affairs.

What should Australians do if they are overseas, but want to come home?

All Australians who are overseas but who wish to return to Australia should do so as soon as possible via commercial transport. Commercial options may quickly become limited. Australians who cannot, or do not want to return home should follow the advice of local authorities and minimise their risk of COVID-19 exposure by self-isolating.

If you are concerned about a person who is overseas, you can call Emergency Consular Assistance on 1300 555 135 (from within Australia). For more information on who may, or may not, be denied entry to Australia, and who is classified as immediate family, call the Home Affairs Global Service Centre on 131 881.

More information for people returning from overseas — and for people who think they have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 (including in the 24 hours before the person became unwell) — can be found on the Department of Health website. Check the Smartraveller website for the latest travel updates.

Everyone arriving in Australia — including Australian citizens — must be isolated for 14 days from the date of their arrival. If you arrive prior to midnight Saturday March 28, 2020, this can be done in your home or accommodation.

If you arrive from another country after midnight Saturday March 28, 2020, you will be quarantined in a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel. Travellers will be transported directly to the designated facility after clearing immigration, customs and health checks. The facility will generally be in the city where the traveller enters Australia.

If you feel unwell while travelling or after returning to Australia, you should see a doctor and advise them of your travel history.

Can foreign travellers still come to Australia?

From 9pm Friday 20 March 2020, anyone who is not an Australian citizen, resident or a close family member of a citizen or resident will not be allowed to enter Australia. Those who are allowed entry must self-isolate for 14 days from the date of their arrival in Australia.

New Zealand citizens who are also Australian residents or who are transiting through Australia to get to New Zealand will still be allowed to enter Australia. Pacific Islanders will also be allowed to transit through Australia to their home countries.

How can I reduce my risk of being infected while travelling?

From midnight 25 March 2020, the Australian government has banned overseas travel, unless necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons.

Practising good hand and cough hygiene is the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser (e.g. before and after eating, and after going to the toilet).
  • Cover your cough with (or sneeze into) a tissue and dispose of it straight away; wash your hands afterwards.
  • Cough or sneeze into your (flexed) elbow.
  • Cough away from other people.
  • Stay more than 1.5 metres away from people when out in public.

Everyone arriving in Australia — including Australian citizens — must be isolated for 14 days from the date of their arrival.

If you arrive prior to midnight Saturday March 28, 2020, this can be done in your home or accommodation.

If you arrive from another country after midnight Saturday March 28, 2020, you will be quarantined in a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel. Travellers will be transported directly to the designated facility after clearing immigration, customs and health checks. The facility will generally be in the city where the traveller enters Australia.

If you feel unwell while travelling or after returning to Australia, you should contact a doctor and advise them of your travel history.

Call ahead and notify staff of your symptoms and travel history before going to the doctor’s clinic. Put on a surgical mask, if you have one, if you need to leave your home or accommodation. When you arrive at the doctor’s clinic or hospital, tell them again about your travel history.

I have just come back from overseas. Should I see a doctor?

Everyone arriving in Australia — including Australian citizens — must be isolated for 14 days from the date of their arrival.

If you arrive prior to midnight Saturday March 28, 2020, this can be done in your home or accommodation.

If you arrive from another country after midnight Saturday March 28, 2020, you will be quarantined in a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel. Travellers will be transported directly to the designated facility after clearing immigration, customs and health checks. The facility will generally be in the city where the traveller enters Australia.

Seek medical help if you experience any flu-like symptoms, such as:

Call ahead and notify staff of your symptoms and travel history before going to the doctor’s clinic. Put on a surgical mask, if you have one, if you need to leave your home or accommodation. When you arrive at the doctor’s clinic or hospital, tell them again about your travel history.

Call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance if you need urgent medical help.

If I arrive in Australia from overseas, and I need to catch a connecting domestic flight, will I be able to board the domestic flight?

If you have returned from overseas in the past 14 days, you must be isolated for 14 days from the date you arrived in Australia. Isolation means remaining in a home or in your accommodation, and it also applies to children. If your child needs to be isolated, they cannot go to school or childcare.

If you return to Australia from overseas before midnight, Saturday 28 March 2020, and need to travel domestically to reach home, you can do so. Your 14-day self-isolation begins when you arrive home. If you have a domestic layover, you must remain in the airport or self-isolate in your accommodation for the transit period.

From midnight, Saturday 28 March 2020, all travellers who arrive in Australia must be quarantined for 14 days at a state or territory-designated facility, such as a hotel. Travellers will be transported directly to the designated facility after clearing immigration, customs and health checks. The facility will generally be in the city where the traveller enters Australia. This means you may not be able to board your connecting domestic flight.

These arrangements will be enforced by the state or territory government with the support of the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force if required.

Air and maritime crews must continue to follow their current arrangements, where they self-isolate in their accommodation if they enter Australia until their next work voyage.

If you develop symptoms such as a fever (temperature of 38°C or more and feverish symptoms such as chills or night sweats), or you have an acute respiratory infection (e.g. cough, shortness of breath or sore throat), you should self-isolate and seek medical advice immediately.

What is 'non-essential travel'?

The Australian Government is advising that all non-essential travel should be cancelled. This includes all unnecessary travel within your own area, visiting other towns and cities and journeys interstate. If you have a trip or holiday planned, it should be cancelled. All international travel is now banned, unless necessary for business, aid assistance or compassionate reasons.

This advice does not include travel that is part of everyday life, such as journeys to work or to the shops for essential supplies.

These steps are being taken to help slow the spread of COVID-19, in addition to other social distancing guidelines that Australians are being asked to do.

Can I visit other states and territories in Australia?

All Australians are now being advised not to do any non-essential travel. Some state and territories are making further restrictions on non-essential travel to either parts of, or the whole of, the state.

Northern Territory

To help protect the local Aboriginal population, the Northern Territory Government has banned all non-essential travel to, and from, remote indigenous communities. Exemptions are allowed for the essential delivery of goods, services and medical care.

From 4pm on Tuesday 24 March, the Northern Territory will also implement strict border controls for all access points — by road, rail, air and sea.

From 4pm on Tuesday 24 March, people who arrive in the Northern Territory from interstate will be need to self-isolate for 14 days.

People who work in health and emergency services, defence and policing, flight crews and freight may be exempt from self-isolation. There will also be exemptions granted on compassionate grounds.

This will not impact the delivery of essential goods, such as food, to the Northern Territory. Freight will continue and supermarkets and stores will be stocked.

For more information on Northern Territory travel restrictions, visit the NT Government website.

Queensland

Queensland has introduced restrictions on non-essential travel. Border checkpoints will be established along major highways and airports. From midnight Friday April 3, only residents and people who are exempt will be allowed to enter Queensland. People with an exemption will only be allowed to cross if they hold a border pass. Freight transport services will be exempt from this requirement. Anyone who is not a resident or does not hold a border pass will not be allowed to enter Queensland.

Exemptions include:

  • freight
  • emergency services
  • those travelling to and from work
  • critical FIFO (fly-in, fly-out) mine workers
  • court orders including family court
  • compassionate grounds
  • medical treatment

South Australia

South Australia has introduced restrictions on non-essential travel. Anyone arriving in South Australia will need to self-isolate for 14 days. This includes residents who have been interstate. From 4pm Tuesday 24 March, border checkpoints will be established at 12 locations along the border, as well as airports, seaports and interstate train stations. Travellers will be required to sign a declaration about their health and their ability to self-isolate for 14 days. Essential travellers include health workers, freight delivery and emergency services.

For more information on South Australia travel restrictions, visit the SA Health website.

Tasmania

Tasmania has introduced restrictions on non-essential travel. Anyone arriving in Tasmania who is not a resident or essential traveller will need to self-isolate for 14 days. Essential travellers include health workers, freight delivery and emergency services.

For more information on Tasmania travel restrictions, visit the Discover Tasmania website.

Western Australia

Western Australia has introduced restrictions on non-essential travel. Anyone arriving in Western Australia will need to self-isolate for 14 days. This included residents who have been interstate. From 1:30pm Tuesday 24 March, border checkpoints will be established along the border, as well as airports, seaports and interstate train stations. Travellers will be required to sign a declaration about their health and their ability to self-isolate for 14 days. Essential travellers include health workers, freight delivery and emergency services.

For more information on Western Australia travel restrictions, visit the WA Government website.

Western Australia has also banned all non-essential travel to, and from, remote indigenous communities. Exemptions are allowed for the essential delivery of goods, services and medical care.

For more information on Western Australia travel restrictions to remote communities, visit the WA Government website.

From midnight 31 March 2020, Western Australians are not allowed to leave their local regions within WA. People who break this rule can be issued with fines. Exemptions are allowed for compassionate reasons and the essential delivery of goods, services and medical care.

For more information on travel restrictions within WA, visit the WA Department of Premier and Cabinet website.

What do I do if I suspect a person has travelled internationally and is unwell, but has not sought medical attention?

If you have concerns for the welfare of friends and family, you should contact them directly. You could also direct them to the Department of Health website.

What do I do if I'm on a plane and am not feeling well?

If you are on board a flight and show signs of an infectious disease:

  • the airline must report you to biosecurity officers
  • biosecurity officers will assess you before you get off the plane
  • you may be isolated or referred to a hospital

What should I do if an airline passenger or crew member is unwell?

Passengers or crew who experience fever, sweats or chills and who have travelled to a high-risk country in the past 14 days, or have had contact with a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case (including in the 24 hours before they became unwell), will need to be separated from other travellers, where possible. They should have at least one spare seat on either side — or a window seat with a spare seat next to them. Ideally, the row should be kept empty.

If available, a surgical mask should be given to the unwell passenger or crew member to wear.

  • Flight attendants should wear gloves when handling and receiving items from affected passengers (the gloves should be removed before they deal with other passengers).
  • Crew should use hand sanitiser following contact with any passenger or other crew.
  • If possible, the affected passengers or crew should not use the same toilet as other passengers and crew.

More information for the airline industry is available at the Department of Health website.

Why were people who were in China transferred to Christmas Island?

Australians who departed on flights arranged by the Australian Government were flown to Christmas Island to be quarantined for up to 14 days, based on medical advice, as a condition of their assisted departure. All of these people have now left Christmas Island.

There are no plans to send further confirmed cases to Christmas Island.

More frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Click on the links below for more questions and answers about the coronavirus (COVID-19).


Information and alerts

Visit the Department of Health website for the latest alerts on COVID-19 in Australia, or the World Health Organization website for global updates.


Resources in other languages


Information for health professionals

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) provides coronavirus (COVID-19) information for GPs.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2020


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