Australians advised not to travel: What to know [Updated]
All non-essential travel should now be avoided, but if you have a holiday booked here are your options when it comes to cancellations.
As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to soar across Australia, the government has stated that all travellers, no matter their age, health or destination, should not travel overseas.
As borders continue to close and international flights begin to ground, it's urging anyone who is currently overseas to return home ASAP.
Here's what else you need to know:
You can still travel if you need to
Essential travel is still allowed – particularly if you're overseas and need to return home, or if you're providing essential services such as medical or goods. Bear in mind though that Australia has issued a 14-day mandatory self-isolation policy for all international entrants. This will see returning travellers be taken to a designated facility, such as a hotel, to complete their quarantine. Anyone in breach of this could face a fine or even jail time.
Another thing to consider is that airlines are suspending services due to lack of demand and to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In fact, Qantas and Jetstar have announced a 90% capacity reduction until May 2020 and Virgin Australia is grounding all international flights from 30 March to 14 June 2020.
Before considering travel during this time, you MUST consider all the risks involved. This includes health risks to you and the people around you, potential quarantine time, travel cancellations and being denied entry.
You should also be vigilant about good hygiene practices wherever you are and whoever you come in contact with.
All destinations have been marked level 4 (do not travel)
As of 18 March 2020, the government has increased all international destinations to the highest advisory level: do not travel.
As a result, it's not recommended you travel outside of Australia. Destinations marked "do not travel" have been met with many travel cancellations and flexible travel policies which include cancellations for refund.
You can keep up to date with travel advice on the Smartraveller website.
If you have a future trip booked, you might be able to cancel or reschedule it fee-free
During this time of crisis, airlines, cruise companies, tour companies and hotels are all offering flexibility around bookings in the near future.
Airlines are offering passengers the opportunity to reschedule their trip penalty-free. Some even allow you to cancel for travel credit into the new year.
Select tour companies, including G Adventures and Intrepid, have also suspended all tours until 30 April. Travellers booked on these tours are being given credit to use on future holidays.
If you have travel booked in the coming months and your trip hasn't been cancelled, contact the travel company for your options. Chances are good that you may be able to postpone your holiday with minimal or no penalty.
Non-essential domestic travel is now banned
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 22 March that all non-essential domestic travel should be cancelled.
Just remember that there is a high risk of contracting COVID-19 within Australia. There are currently 1,800+ cases in the country and the numbers are rising.
And those who choose to travel locally must practise good hygiene. Wash your hands with soap regularly, sanitise, and cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. And, if you feel you may have contracted the virus, contact your dedicated hotline for the latest advice.
Virtual travel is a reality
As an alternative to travelling during this crisis, museums are offering free virtual reality tours. Plays, operas and sporting events are likewise being streamed to keep you up to date and to quench some of that wanderlust.
Museums offering virtual reality tours include the following:
This story was updated on 30 March 2020 to include new information from government guidelines.
Switching to save some cash?
Sorry to hear about your travel plans. Now that we're all at home, it could be a good idea to have a look at your everyday expenses to see where you can save some money. No one ever complained about having some extra money in their pockets!
Saving cash can be as easy as switching your energy provider or downgrading your mobile phone plan. Here are some guides on how to save money on your daily expenses.