PM announces two week quarantine in hotels for anyone flying into Australia

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that everyone arriving in Australia at airports will be quarantined for 14 days from midnight tomorrow in order to stop the continuing spread of the coronavirus.

Mr Morrison said from midnight Saturday, anyone arriving in a state or territory across the country will be placed into a hotel or some type of accomodation for mandatory isolation for 14 days.

Coronavirus live blog: Latest news and updates about the crisis in Australia

“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.

“If it's in Sydney, it will be in Sydney.”

At the Swissotel in Sydney the first quarantined guests were those Australian passengers who were stranded on the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship in the Pacific, and arrived into Sydney on a Qantas charter flight early on Thursday morning.

Mr Morrison said the cost of quarantining and accomodation will be handled by states and territories.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison holds up a Coronavirus Isolation Declaration Card as he speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison holds up a Coronavirus Isolation Declaration Card. It's provided to people arriving in Australia and is a legally-binding agreement to self-isolate. Source: AAP

To ensure people are complying with the order, Mr Morrison said the Australian Defence Force will be deployed to back up police.

“I have no doubt the forces will do that in the most sensitive way they can, but it is necessary,” he said.

Friday’s announcement follows the government’s updated measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Mr Morrison spoke of the new restrictions on Tuesday night, which led to the closure of personal beauty therapies including tattoo artists as well as tanning, waxing and nail salons.

Gyms were also closed and outdoor bootcamps limited to 10 people. Overseas travel went from a warning to an all out ban. In real estate, all open house inspections and real estate auctions were cancelled.

This all came into effect from midnight Wednesday.

Mr Morrison also said all open house inspections and real estate auctions were cancelled too.

“These will be significant sacrifices, I know,” he told reporters.

‘Our biggest issue’

Mr Morrison said “two thirds” of Australia’s coronavirus cases are people who have returned from overseas.

“Two-thirds of the cases that we currently have are from an Australian who has come home,” the PM said.

“Two-thirds. That is very different to what we're seeing in other parts of the world. Our biggest issue, the biggest number of cases, relate to this.”

A woman wears a face mask as a precaution against the spread of Coronavirus at Brisbane Airport.
A woman wears a face mask at Brisbane International Airport. Source: Getty Images

NSW Health said of its 1405 confirmed cases on Friday, 877 of those were acquired overseas.

Seven of the newest cases were acquired from a wedding in Bali on March 21.

On Tuesday morning, a woman in her 70s died from coronavirus after returning from New Zealand on the Ruby Princess cruise ship which docked in Sydney.

‘Rooms on standby’

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Friday afternoon his state has “5,000 rooms on standby” for those who need to go into self-isolation.

“We have ... between 1,300 and 2,000 people arriving back in Melbourne each day,” Mr Andrews said.

“Those numbers will perhaps drop off in coming days but we have sufficient capacity and we have done the work early to be able to accommodate those people.

“They will be housed, fed and transported at no cost to them but this is the best way to ensure absolute compliance.”

NSW Police stand guard outside the Swissotel Hotel in Market Street, Sydney.
Police stand guard outside Sydney's Swissotel as people are quarantined inside. Source: AAP

In WA, about 200 locals onboard the Vasco da Gama cruise ship will next week go into quarantine on Rottnest Island, west of Perth, for 14 days.

Queensland’s health minister Steven Miles said on Friday the sunshine state would also be quarantining arrivals in hotels.

“I know many hotels are struggling right now and this will give them a chance to have guests, to keep their staff employed and that is certainly welcome,” Mr Miles told reporters.

Australia currently has more than 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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