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Australians and NZers advised to return home

Nuku'alofa, Tonga
More details at www.smartraveller.gov.au
 
 
The Australian Government today issued a global advice to citizens travelling abroad to consider returning home. This is the country's highest alert level 4. Meanwhile, New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has told 80,000 Kiwis travelling overseas to get home now - before it's too late.
 
Australia
 
The Australian Government today issued a global advice to citizens to consider returning if abroad and avoid international travel for those at home.
 
In Nuku'alofa, the Australian High Commission released the statement, urging its citizens who are abroad to consider returning home by commercial means as soon as possible.

“As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult, and they may not be able to return to Australia, when they had planned to. 

“If citizens are overseas and cannot, or do not want to return to Australia, they are to follow the advice of local authorities and take care to minimise your risk of exposure to coronavirus including by self-isolating.”

The statement warned that if Australian citizens choose to stay, they should “note the Australian Government's ability to provide consular assistance in some places, may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.”

Citizens who do decide to return to Australia will now be required to self-isolate for 14-days. This applies to all travellers, including Australian citizens.

Meanwhile, all cruise ships from a foreign port have been banned from entering Australia for 30-days.

The Government said this advice was due to two reasons, including the potential higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas.

“Health care systems in some countries may come under strain and may not be as well-equipped as Australia’s or have the capacity to support foreigners. Overseas travel has become more complex and unpredictable. Many countries are introducing entry or movement restrictions,” it stated.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister decided on March 17 to offer voluntary departures globally for all dependants of staff at their overseas posts, staff at high risk due to underlying health conditions and staff the head of mission considers to be non-essential for ongoing operations.

New Zealand

Today, the New Zealand Herald reported that Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has told 80,000 Kiwis travelling overseas to get home now - before it's too late.

"If you're travelling it's very likely you could be shut off very shortly," Peters said. "If you can get home, come home now."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) this morning asked all Kiwis currently overseas to return as soon as possible due to the restriction on the number of flights now operating.

Peters said: "We're alerting everyone we can that the transportation options are closing up real fast and they could be stranded there so they need to think about that real hard."

Peters said MFAT was also working with its international staff based as some were in "high risk" areas and have health conditions.