Sydney, Australia, Mar 27 (efe-epa).- Australia announced on Friday that it would deploy the military to enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine in hotels for people arriving from abroad, in a bid to check the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure, set to come into effect at midnight on Saturday, was the latest in a series of travel restrictions that have intensified in recent days, including a ban on Australian citizens traveling abroad and closing entry to tourists and non-resident foreigners.
“What we’re announcing today enables us to deal with the increasing pressure we have from Australians coming home,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said at a press conference in Canberra.
“Two-thirds of the cases that we currently have are from an Australian who has come home.”
The Australian Defense Force will be deployed to assist the police to implement the mandatory quarantine, although it will not be given the power to make arrests.
The law and order situation and the expenses for the hotel stays will be handled by state authorities.
Morrison stopped short of imposing mandatory stay-at-home orders for all Australians, ordering the closure of non-essential services from Monday, although schools and kindergartens will continue to remain open.
The prime minister said he will shortly announce a plan to “hibernate” businesses, with support from states and territories, without providing further details.
“You can’t run a country without an economy,” Morrison said.
He added that the government will support both tenants and landlords in dealing with losses due to closures.
In Australia, which has a population of around 24.6 million, Covid-19 cases have crossed the 3,000 mark and led to 13 deaths, with the states of New South Wales and Victoria and their respective capitals Sydney and Melbourne being the worst affected.
The two states have not ruled out plans to impose stringent restrictions on citizens’ movements in the coming days, but authorities have avoided a comprehensive lockdown so far.
In contrast, New Zealand, with a population of 4.8 million and around 340 cases, has ordered a month-long mandatory quarantine for its entire population which started on Thursday, days after coordinating a travel restriction policy with Australia. EFE-EPA