Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told international visitors in Australia it’s time they returned to their usual place of residence.
“As lovely as it is to have visitors to Australia, it is time – as it has been for some while – to make your way home,” the PM said in a press conference on Friday.
Morrison said this was “to ensure that you can receive the supports that are available where they in your home countries”.
“At this time, Australia must focus on its citizens and its residents to ensure we can maximise the economic supports that we have,” he explained.
His comments come as a cluster of Covid-19 cases was confirmed amongst “infected backpackers” in Sydney’s Bondi earlier this week.
Australia’s borders are not closed as of yet, with returning residents having to self-isolate for 14 days in mandatory quarantine hotels provided by the government.
He did say there could be opportunities for qualified health workers on holiday visas to stay and work during this unprecedented crisis.
“For those backpackers in Australia who are nurses or doctors, or have other critical skills that can really help us during this crisis, then there will be opportunities for them as well,” he said.
“But our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available.”
Also speaking about international students, Morrison said, “All students who come to Australia in their first year have to give a warranty that they are able to support themselves for the first 12 months of their study”.
For those intending to do agricultural-related work such as fruit-picking, the PM said they will be required to register online and self-isolate for 14 days, before transferring to another part of the country where the work is.
He added people on various visa arrangements are “not held here compulsorily”.
“If they are not in a position to support themselves then there is the alternative for them to return to their home countries.”
At least 5,224 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and 27 people have died.