Australia and New Zealand moved on Thursday to close off their boundaries, declaring unprecedented bans on entry for non-residents in efforts to stem the increase of COVID-19 infections.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that the ban on someone who is not a citizen or permanent resident moving to Australia “will be in effect tomorrow evening from 9:00 pm.”
An equivalent measure was announced by his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, who acknowledged: “I recognise how extraordinary this is. In no time in New Zealand’s history has a power like this been used.”
Australia and New Zealand have introduced a slew of limitations on fighting the pandemic, but they have stopped short of closing schools or setting up wider lockdowns so far.
Policymakers hope that the bans would reduce the outbreak rate enough to prevent further punitive steps that would cripple the two economies and disrupt life for coming months.
Australia currently has 642 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the number nearly doubling every 3 days. New Zealand contained 28 cases.
Morrison said that about 80% of the cases of coronavirus in Australia came from “someone who developed the virus overseas or someone who had direct contact with someone who came back from overseas.”
A recent opinion poll found that 69 per cent of Australians were back closing the border.
Ardern said the measures would also ban people with visas.
“Today’s decision stops any tourist, or temporary visa holder such as students or temporary workers, from coming to and entering into New Zealand.”