Australasia

Mar 24, 2020

In Australia, beginning on at 1200 local time (0100 UTC) on 23 March 2020, mass gathering sites — including clubs, cinemas, casinos and place of worship — closed until further notice in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Essential services, such as grocery stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, delivery services — in addition to freight and logistics operations — will remain open and restaurants will be restricted to carryout services only. Schools in the states of Victoria and New South Wales will reopen following the Easter holidays. Furthermore, on 22 March officials in the state of South Australia announced that they will implement entry restrictions on all travelers into the state beginning at 1600 local time (0530 UTC) on 24 March until further notice. The state will partially restrict border crossing points to 12 “land-based stations” at train depots and airports; travelers will be required to undergo COVID-19 health screenings and agree to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entry into the state. The measure is the first inter-state travel restriction to be implemented within Australia. There are at least 134 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, and at least 1,682 confirmed cases nationwide.

Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern raised the country’s COVID-19 alert level to Level 3 on 23 March and announced that the level of advice will upgrade to Alert Level 4 effective 0000 local time on 25 March (1100 UTC on 24 March) until at least 22 April. Beginning on 25 March New Zealand will impose a nationwide lockdown and the following measures will be implemented: nationwide shelter-in-place order for all residents: all schools and non-essential businesses closed; required rationing of essential supplies and potential government requisition of facilities; all travel for purposes other than obtaining basic necessities, such as food or medical services, prohibited; national health care services will re-prioritize resources to combat COVID-19. Essential services — such as grocery stores, medical facilities and pharmacies — will remain operational during this time. In addition, essential personnel, including first responders and health care practitioners, will be exempted from the travel restrictions. Officials have advised the general populace to begin preparations for the nationwide lockdown and to keep abreast of local developments and follow any guidance or directives from local authorities. At present, New Zealand has at least 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and health authorities have confirmed cases of local transmission.

In Papua New Guinea, beginning on 24 March a two-week state of emergency will be implemented to restrict the movement of residents. In addition to the previous ban on incoming international flights, all domestic flights will be grounded and movement between provinces will be limited to approved cargo, medicine and security personnel. Furthermore, residents are only permitted to leave their homes to obtain essential goods and medical care or travel to work if they are unable to work remotely. Prime Minister James Marape issued the order after the island nation reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19 on 20 March.

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