People returning to Australia from overseas could spend up to a month in isolation if they transit through another state on their way home.
Australia is introducing new regulations from midnight Saturday that require all returning passengers to be held in isolation at their first port of call in a designated facility such as a hotel.
“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,’’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Arrivals will be transported directly to the facility after completing immigration, customs and health checks.
Those that fly on to another state or territory after completing their isolation could then face another 14 days of self-isolation under state-based rules.
Australian passengers from a cruise ship docked in Western Australia are already subject to the new laws and Premier Mark McGowan confirmed passengers from other states would be quarantined in WA for 14 days “before going to their home state for a further 14-day self-isolation period”.
The states will run the isolation programs for overseas travelers, assisted by the Australian Border Force and Australian Defence Force, and returning travelers will be provided with food and accommodation.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said people would be quarantined in hotels, motels, caravan parks and student accommodation.
He said authorities would try to accommodate travelers close to home but warned this might not always be possible.
The upgraded quarantine rules replace the previous system of self-isolation at home and were prompted by the number of local COVID-19 cases stemming from people returning from overseas hotspots.
“Two-thirds of the cases that we currently have are from an Australian who has come home: two-thirds,’’ Morrison said. “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. And as time has gone on, the risk of those who are returning from other parts of the world actually increases because more countries have the virus.”