Countries Down Under Close Borders to Foreign Nationals Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated: Mar 23

Australia and New Zealand announced they would close their borders to noncitizens Thursday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The prime ministers from both countries revealed the plans to shut down borders, citing the fact that most cases of the novel coronavirus came from overseas.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the ban would go into effect Friday at 9 p.m. and stay in place indefinitely, while New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the closure would occur at midnight on Thursday, The Guardian reported.

The bans in both countries would permit the partners or children of citizens or residents to enter the country.

“For the next six months we need to work together,” Morrison said during a televised news conference,

according to The Straits Times. “We do need to moderate our behavior and understand things need to change.”

Australia also decided to put $100 billion in Australian dollars into the economy to prevent the first potential recession in three decades. The government has also cooperated with airlines like Qantas for continuing to work to bring Australians home after it had cut many flights, ABC reported.

New Zealand followed in Australia’s footsteps by intensifying all travel advisories to level four, known as “Do Not Travel.”

“I’m not willing to tolerate risk at our border, that is where predominantly our cases are coming from,” Ardern said, according to The Guardian.

Both countries had already forbidden citizens of Iran, China and South Korea, all countries that have suffered from high amounts of virus infections, from entering for weeks. They also will require all arrivals to the country to self-isolate for 14 days, according to The Guardian.

But both countries assured citizens that supplies would still come into the country so no panic shopping was required.

The border closures come the day after the U.S. and Canada announced they would close their border to “non-essential traffic” because of the virus.

New Zealand has 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19, which Ardern said all came from abroad, while Australia has documented more than 600 cases, according to The Guardian.