Australia Implements New Travel Bans Ahead of Christmas Due to COVID-19 Outbreak
Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory temporarily banned arrivals from Sydney.
Australian officials have begun implementing interstate travel restrictions as a COVID-19 outbreak grows in Sydney, the country’s largest city.
The most recent outbreak in Sydney has been linked to 83 new cases, which trace back to Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The state of New South Wales conducted a total of 38,000 COVID-19 tests within 24 hours to track the spread of the virus, which does not seem to extend beyond the Northern Beaches.
Up until this new outbreak, Australia had gone more than two weeks without any local transmissions and most travel restrictions had been lifted ahead of Christmas.
"2020 is not done with us yet,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, the BBC reported. "The events of the past few days... are incredibly frustrating and disappointing for people all around the country who had plans in place to get together and move in between states."
Victoria, Queensland, and the Northern Territory temporarily banned arrivals from Sydney on Monday while South Australia and Tasmania imposed a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers from the capital. Western Australia implemented a hard border closure.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) of Canberra warned outside travelers to not visit, or they would be subject to a 14-day quarantine, according to Reuters.
The measures were announced over the weekend, offering travelers a short window to travel before the new rules were put in place. Airlines also canceled several flights from Sydney Airport.
In New South Wales, holiday gatherings are limited to 10 people in households and 300 people in public establishments. Residents are urged to wear masks while in public, although not required. Rules regarding Christmas gatherings are expected to be released later this week, according to Sky News.
Australia has become known for its strict response to COVID-19 outbreaks. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the country has reported about 28,100 infections and 908 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.