Since the government announced Monday it would enforce a 14-day self-isolation period on all international arrivals to Australia, pending visitors have had to make the decision on whether to cancel holiday plans or commit to two weeks of staying indoors.
For passengers who were travelling at the weekend, many first heard the news mid-flight during pilot announcements that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had issued the rule to curb the spread of COVID-19.
One UK traveller, who wanted to remain anonymous, decided not get on her plane from London to Sydney this week after her Airbnb told her it could not accomodate her self-isolation.
At least 450 people in Australia have tested positive while five people have died after contracting COVID-19, one in WA, three in NSW and one in Queensland.
The virus has killed more than 7,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace.
“We are obviously very worried about the situation and could not have people who need to self-quarantine staying at our house. I hope you can understand,” the message read.
Other travellers in this position have three choices: turn around and fly home, self-isolate in appropriate accommodation or face hefty penalties for not complying.
Here’s what happens if you break the strict quarantine measures:
If a person is suspected to have breached self-isolation in QLD, authorities will make sure the person fully understands their obligations, but also the importance and seriousness of self-quarantine under the exceptional global circumstances.
“Any further failure to comply may be subject to enforced quarantine and receiving fines of up to $13,345 and other penalties,” Queensland Health said on its website on Monday.
In Western Australia, fines range from $5,000 to $50,000 under the state’s Public Health Act and the Emergency Management Act.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the extreme measures were put in place to protect the community adding “these are necessary times because it’s an extraordinary situation.”
People breaching the rules in NSW will be liable for fines of $11,000 and a six month jail term, NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant announced Monday.
While under a state of emergency, the Chief Health Officer of VIC has new powers to declare self-isolation on citizens and visitors. Individuals who don’t comply can be fined $20,000 and company fines “could be up to $100,000.”
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT’s Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman confirmed to HuffPost there is a point system in place that could accumulate to a $9,000 fine for people who continuously break the self-isolation rule.
NT’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner’s office confirmed with HuffPost Australia visitors and Australian citizens who break self-isolation rules could face six months in prison or a $1256 fine.
SBS reports, according to section 42 of Tasmania’s public health act, the maximum fine is $8,400.
What is self-isolation?
The government’s ‘Health Direct’ website describes self-isolation as staying inside the house or hotel and not having contact with others.
It recommends not going to public places such as work, school, childcare, university or public gatherings and that people should only see their housemates and avoid having visitors. If a person is in a hotel or Airbnb they should not have contact with the host.
“If you have returned from overseas, but have no symptoms, then everyone else in your household should practice social distancing,” the website said.
Harsher rules for all Aussies on the way
Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with the newly formed national cabinet, an emergency response team that includes state leaders and senior medical officials, by video link on Tuesday to discuss tougher restrictions on public gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
More to come.