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COVID19: Stay Informed

20 May 2020

Stay informed: COVID19

**Last updated 11.30am EDT Tuesday 19 May 2020 - Please monitor this page and our social media channels for updates (Facebook, Twitter)**


COVID-19 – What to do when you can’t get home

Advice as per Smartraveller: We understand that it’s stressful and frightening if you can’t get home because of border closures and flight cancellations overseas.

We suggest you continue to check with local authorities and airlines about available flights out, but you may have to wait it out in that country until the border closures are lifted or other arrangements are made.

Here’s our advice for what to do if you can’t leave the country you’re in: smartraveller.gov.au/COVID-19-cant-get-home

Most countries still have arrangements in place to allow Australians to leave. But in many cases, the window of opportunity to do so is closing. If you want to come back to Australia, and commercial flights are available, take them as soon as possible. 

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COVID-19 - Ban on Departure from Australia

There is a currently a travel ban in place on Australians leaving Australia for overseas travel. This is in addition to Smartraveller advice not to travel overseas at this time.

The ban will help prevent travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus. Some exemptions will apply including for:

  • people ordinarily resident in a country other than Australia
  • ​​​airline and maritime crew and associated safety workers
  • New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa are not permanent residents for the purposes of the Biosecurity Determination and are permitted to depart Australia. New Zealand citizens who are permanent visa holders may apply for a Commissioner’s discretion
  • ​people engaged in the day to day conduct of outbound and inbound freight
  • people whose travel is associated with essential work at offshore facilities and
  • people travelling on official government business, including members of the Australian Defence Force

For more details or to apply for an exemption visit: the Department of Home Affairs.

For more information go to Smartraveller's COVID-19 Travel Ban page.

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Information for Australians (per Smartraveller)

Available Flights from the US to Australia** new section

**Last updated 5.00pm EDT Thursday 14 May 2020**

The government has extended its special partnership with Qantas and Virgin Australia to help bring more Australians home. Additional direct commercial flights are scheduled to depart Los Angeles until early June.

Qantas QF94
LAX to MEL: 16, 23, 30 May and 6 June 2020
Book via www.qantas.com
*Please contact Qantas and your chosen pet carrier directly for enquiries on animal transportation.

Virgin Australia VA6
LAX to BNE: 17, 24, 31 May and 7 June 2020
Book via virginaustralia.com

SFO to SYD: Daily
Book via www.united.com

If you can get to one of these cities, and you want to return to Australia, we strongly urge you to take this opportunity while it’s available.

Quarantine for arrivals upon entry to Australia

From 11:59pm AEDT 28 March, all travellers arriving in to Australia from overseas will go into monitored quarantine in hotels or other designated facilities for 14 days, before they can go home. Quarantine will be at your city of arrival into Australia. Restrictions in place until: Further notice. See https://pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-270320.

  • All travellers arriving in Australia by air or sea must be isolated in mandatory quarantine accommodation for 14 days from their arrival, with few exceptions. These requirements will be managed and enforced by state and territory governments with Australian Government support, including from the Australian Defence Force and Australian Border Force.

  • You will be quarantined in the city you arrive in for 14 days, even if you don’t normally live there or plan to travel elsewhere in Australia from there.

  • Most quarantine accommodation is being managed by state and territory governments. They will handle transport for travellers from their arrival point to their quarantine accommodation and manage quarantine arrangements at the accommodation facility.

  • To find out more about how quarantine works in your state or territory, to ask about someone you know who has been quarantined, or to apply for an exemption, contact your state or territory government health department.

  • For further information see New arrangements for arrivals from overseas​.​​

Overseas travel

On 24 March the Prime Minister announced a ban on all overseas travel, with few exceptions. This is on top of Smartraveller's standing advice from 18 March to not travel overseas at this time. 

While there are still commercial options available to return to Australia, take them.

The Australian Government advises all Australians do not travel overseas at this time. This is the highest advice level (level 4 of 4).

If you are already overseas and wish to return to Australia, the Australian Government recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means.

Regardless of your destination, age or health, the advice is do not travel at this time. Updates to this travel advisory can be found on Australia's Smartraveller website.

As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult. You may not be able to return to Australia when you had planned to. Consider whether you have access to health care and support systems if you get sick while overseas. If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. Commercial options may become less available.

If you choose to stay, note our ability to provide consular assistance in some places may be limited due to restrictions on movement and other services.

Contact your airline, travel agent or insurance company to discuss your travel plans and options for cancelling or postponing current bookings, or to arrange commercial flights back to Australia.

All cruise ships which have sailed from a foreign port have been banned from entering Australian ports.

For urgent consular assistance contact:

  • +61 2 6261 3305 from overseas 
  • 1300 555 135 from within Australia

For non-urgent inquiries, email smartraveller@dfat.gov.au

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Australian Government Information

The Australian Government is providing important information and resources for all Australians. Various departments are responsible for specific elements of the whole-of-government repsonse to COIVD-19. The Government is supported by the National Cabinet comprising the prime minister and all state and territory premiers and chief ministers.

The Australian Government COVID portal: one-stop-shop on how the Government is responding to COVID-19​.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Smartraveller: smartraveller travel alerts and consular contact details. ​​​​​​
Department of Home Affairs: border closures, immigration and cyber security.
Department of Health: resources to help you flatten the curve. ​​​​​​
Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade): information for Australian exporters. ​​​​​​
Treasury: economic overview of the response. ​​​​​​
Services Australia (Centrelink): financial support for individuals. ​​​​​​
Business Australia: assistance for Australian businesses.

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Travel within Australia: State and territory restrictions

Australians must avoid all non-essential domestic travel. Social distancing is slowing the spread of coronavirus and it’s important that this continue at Easter. Australians should stay at home this Easter and not undertake holiday travel.

Seasonal workers planning on travelling between urban and regional areas need to self-isolate for 14 days when moving between areas to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

States and territories can apply their own restrictions, including closing their state borders. Find out more about restrictions in your state or territory:

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Information for Australian Pet Owners

**Last updated 11.00am EDT Wednesday 13 May 2020**

The current COVID-19 pandemic does not change the existing risks posed by diseases of biosecurity concern to Australia or the need for cats and dogs to meet the import permit conditions in full. These import conditions protect Australia against exotic diseases. To ensure animal welfare and manage the significant biosecurity risks posed by international transport of animals, all animals destined for the quarantine facility at Mickleham must arrive directly into Melbourne Airport. Animals cannot be transhipped to Melbourne on a domestic flight from another Australian port.  For more information please see the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s website at: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/cats-dogs.

In regards to Qantas QF94 LAX to MEL: 16, 23, 30 May and 6 June 2020 - Please contact Qantas and your chosen pet carrier directly for enquiries on animal transportation.

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Cruise Ship Information

**This section last updated 2:30 pm EDT Tuesday 26 May 2020**

The Embassy is aware that there are still cruise ships off the coast of the US with crew remaining on board. Crew members cannot disembark at a US port until the cruise lines can satisfy the stringent requirements that have been imposed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One requirement is that charter flights must be arranged to repatriate crew, as US authorities will not allow crew to travel on commercial aircraft or other forms of public transportation. 

On 16 April 2020, Ambassador Arthur Sinodinos wrote to Australian crew members. You can read the Ambassador’s letter here. Further updates have been emailed to crew who have registered with us (see below) as new information has become available.

Cruise lines are continuing to work on repatriation plans, however, the situation is complex and the repatriation of crew to their home countries involves the agreement of a number of governments, authorities and airlines. In light of CDC restrictions relating to travel on commercial aircraft within and from the US, the cruise lines are focussing on arrangements to repatriate crew by sealift to Europe or Asia, or via charter flights originating from outside the US, and subsequent connecting commercial flights to Australia. 

Carnival/HAL/Princess consolidated non-essential crew onto ships to sail to Europe or Asia and to connect with flights to Australia. The Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Nieuw Statendam and Carnival Breeze arrived in Europe and their crew flown to Australia. The Emerald Princess is currently en route to Rotterdam. Several other ships have arrived in, or are currently enroute to Manila.

Norwegian transferred some Australian crew onto the Norwegian Star, which arrived in Southampton and repatriated crew via London. The Norwegian Breakaway has arrived in Barcelona and crew are in the process of being repatriated.

The Disney Magic arrived in the UK on 19 May and crew were repatriated via London.

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) transferred Australian crew from various RCCL and Celebrity ships onto the Freedom of the Seas for repatriation on charter flights from Barbados to London, the first of which departed on 24 May. Crew are connecting with commercial flights from London to Australia. 

We are still actively engaged with Carnival/HAL/Princess, Norwegian, Disney, RCCL and others regarding the repatriation of remaining crew, and will update this page as we receive further information.

In the meantime, cruise ships will continue to make regular stops at US ports for resupply and will coordinate with the US Coast Guard and public health agencies to provide transportation for any crew members who need emergency medical care.

We are mindful about the potential impact delays and the uncertainty regarding arrangements may be having on crew health and well-being. We understand that the cruise lines have appropriately trained staff available for you to speak to about medical issues and to connect you with counselling and support services, if required. You can also find information and counselling support at www.beyondblue.org.au or by contacting the Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 and asking to be transferred to a Lifeline (www.lifeline.org.au ) telephone crisis supporter.

If you are an Australian crew member in or near US waters or in the Caribbean: 

  • Please email Consular.Washington@dfat.gov.au if you haven’t already registered with the Australian Embassy or one of the Consulates. We will contact you to request further information. 
  • If you have volunteered to remain on board in order to keep ships operational, please email Consular.Washington@dfat.gov.au
  • If you have specific concerns or fall ill, please make contact with your ship’s medical facilities or HR areas, and contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre in Canberra on +61 2 6261 3305 (1300 555 135 for family members and friends in Australia) or email Centre.Conops@dfat.gov.au.

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Embassy and Consulate visitors

The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General are taking precautions to protect visitors and staff during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This includes cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily such as tables, light switches, countertops, door handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Please note, in the public facing areas of our Embassy, only passport, consular and notarial services remain open, our gallery is temporarily closed, until further notice.

Australian Consulate-General Los Angeles: In compliance with Mayor Garcetti’s Safer at Home Order dated 19 March and revised 10 April 2020, all members of the public who enter the Australian Consulate-General Los Angeles must wear a face covering during their time in the Consulate.

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Passport and consular clients

The Australian Embassy and Consulates-General remain open to provide essential passport and consular services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wherever possible we encourage you to lodge your passport application (including renewals) and notarial service requests via mail by following the instructions on the Passport applications during COVID-19 page and the Notarial Services page.  For contact details of our offices please visit our Passport Locations page.

The safety and health of our visitors and staff is a priority. For the safety of our staff and other visitors, we ask that you do not bring anyone to your appointment who is not required to attend. If you are accompanied by friends or family members, they are welcome to wait outside our locations while you lodge your application. 

Staff may wear gloves during security screening and the exchange of documents with visitors. Visitors are being asked to use hand-sanitizer as appropriate.

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Information for travellers to Australia

From Friday 20 March 9pm AEDT (6.00am EDT) Australia will NOT allow the entry of people who are not citizens, permanent residents or their families.

From 11:59pm AEDT 28 March, all travellers arriving in to Australia from overseas will go into monitored quarantine in hotels or other designated facilities for 14 days, before they can go home. Quarantine will be at your city of arrival into Australia. See https://pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-270320

Immediate family members who are not permanent residents must apply for an exemption if they wish to travel to Australia during this period. Detailed information about the exemptions is available here website.

web form is available for family members to apply for an exemption. Proof of the family relationship should be provided as part of this request. Non-family members may also use the form to apply for an exemption if they have a compelling or compassionate reason for travel.

What does this mean? If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you and your immediate family will be able to return to Australia. You’ll still be required to quarantine for 14 days. If you’re a foreign national visiting Australia, you’ll still be allowed to depart Australia.

For additional Australian visa information in relation to COVID-19 please refer to our Visas and Migration page.  

There are confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia. For the latest information on coronavirus cases in Australia, please refer to the Department of Health's website.

Additional travel alerts are in place for a number of countries. If you are considering travelling overseas or visiting Australia you should contact your travel agent and visit the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website for the most up-to-date advice.

Currently all Australian airports are open and, with the exception of flights to and from China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. A number of airlines have reduced or cancelled flights in response to a drop in demand for these services. We recommend checking with your airline or travel agent before booking or undertaking travel.

Australian citizens who reside in the United States but are currently in Europe, please refer to the US Department of Homeland Security website for information on returning to the United States.

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US Visas

All enquiries about US visas and your status in country should be directed to the relevant US authorities. If you are in Australia, please contact the US Embassy in Canberra, or one of the US Consulates in SydneyPerth or Melbourne. If you are already in the United States, please contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283, or the Department of State’s Visa Services on +1 202 485 7600.

For Australians in the US looking to apply online, extend or change their non-immigrant status (including E3 visa holders) please visit this link: https://www.uscis.gov/i539online

If you can’t contact USCIS and are delayed beyond your departure date (e.g. due to airline cancellations or you are unable to apply to USCIS to extend your stay because USCIS offices are closed) you should keep documentation in order to present to US authorities in future should the need arise, and seek the advice of a migration lawyer.

If you are in possession of a current E3 visa that is due to expire you may apply for a 240 day extension. More information is available here https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/uscis-response-covid-19 - under tab "Extension of Stay/Change of Status".

We would also encourage you to consult your employer or sponsor and speak with an immigration attorney to see what options may be available to you.

US Department of State: suspension of routine visa services: In response to significant worldwide challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of State is temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Embassies and consulates have canceled all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments as of March 20, 2020. As resources allow, embassies and consulates will continue to provide emergency and mission critical visa services. More information: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/News/visas-news/suspension-of-routine-visa-services.html


**This section last updated 5.00pm EDT Friday 17 April 2020 **

ESTA travelers affected by COVID-19 restrictions may now apply for an extended term of admission. Please see this announcement for further information. If you are travelling in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and are concerned about your status in country, contact the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on +1 800 375 5283. You can also speak with an immigration attorney to see what options may be available to you

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Operating Status and Local Information

**Last updated 11.30am EDT Tuesday 19 May 2020**

Operating status updates for each state, including schools, restaurants, emergency services and transport are available on the state's local website. We recommend you closely monitor and register for alerts from these local authorities in your state. For your convenience we have compiled a list of all state local information on our Local Conditions: COVID-19 page.

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