‘Make your way home’: Prime Minister Scott Morrison – who was behind Australia’s famous tourism campaign ‘where the bloody hell are you?’ – orders tourists to get out of the country amid the coronavirus pandemic
- The prime minister called for tourists and backpackers to ‘make their way home’
- He said that there are still many foreign nationals on tourist and student visas
- Mr Morrison said while it was ‘lovely’ to have visitors, it is time many flew home
- It comes after the government announced Easter holidays should be cancelled
- Australia recorded its 28th coronavirus-related death on Friday, with 5,337 cases
All tourists and foreign students who are unable to support themselves financially during the coronavirus pandemic have been told to go home by Scott Morrison.
The prime minister said that while ‘it is lovely to have visitors in good times’, now is the time for them to leave so officials can focus on supporting Australians in need.
It marks a significant departure from Mr Morrison’s previous role as director of Tourism Australia, where he famously hired Lara Bingle to help lure travellers in.
But now ministers are focused on helping to keep Australians afloat, pledging $130 billion for a JobKeepers package for workers, many of whom faced losing their jobs.
His call comes to foreign nationals who are unable to support themselves financially during the pandemic – saying they are not ‘being held here’ and should leave.
Departing travellers wearing face masks are seen at Sydney airport on Monday (pictured), with thousands now encouraged to leave Australia
Young sunseekers at St Kilda beach (pictured) on March 27, despite strict social distancing rules to stop the spread of COVID-19. Police have broken up several backpacker parties
Shocking pictures this week showed large groups of backpackers flagrantly disregarding strict social distancing rules, designed to stop the virus spreading.
‘These (student) visas, and those who are in Australia under various visa arrangements, they are obviously not held here compulsorily,’ he told reporters on Friday.
‘If they are not in a position to support themselves then there is the alternative for them to return to their home countries.
‘We still have quite a number of people who are here on visitor visas.
‘As much as it is lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times, at times like this if you’re a visitor in this country, it is time, as it has been now for some while – and I know many visitors have – to make your way home and to ensure that you can receive the supports that are available … in your home countries.’
Scott Morrison (pictured on Friday) said tourists, such as backpackers and those on student visas, who are unable to support themselves should ‘make their way home’
Travellers leaving Australia are seen presenting their flight documents to airport security in Sydney on Monday (pictured)
The prime minister explained that some travellers to Australia, such as those on working-holiday visas could work in fruit picking and other agricultural work.
But he said they must first self-isolate before travelling to regional areas, amid fears the migration could spread the virus from cities to ‘more vulnerable’ regions.
He also said workers will be required to abide by social-distancing rules.
‘This is being done to ensure that those producers can get the work done but also to ensure that the communities are protected,’ he said.
It comes as Australians continue to return home to see out the pandemic. Passengers returned on a special flight repatriating Australians from abroad (pictured on Thursday in Brisbane)
Police screen incoming passengers at the domestic airport in Brisbane on Friday (pictured)
‘You can’t have six backpackers in a caravan up out in rural parts of the country,’ he added.
‘That’s not on. Not going to happen.’
He reiterated the current visa regulations which state that students who come to Australia must prove they have enough money to support themselves for 12 months.
Mr Morrison commented that given students will have known about this rule before arriving, it is ‘not unreasonable’ to expect them to look after themselves.
‘That is a requirement for their visa when they come for the first year,’ he explained.
The prime minister was director of Tourism Australia when it launched its now world-famous campaign featured model Lara Bingle (pictured), encouraging tourists to visit the country
‘That is not an unreasonable expectation of the government that students would be able to fulfill the commitment that they gave.’
But those who can be useful to the health system, such as student nurses, have had restrictions on their visas lifted – bringing 20,000 more nurses into the workforce.
‘For those backpackers 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 added.
‘But our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available.’
French nationals are seen queuing to enter Sydney airport to be repatriated to France on Thursday (pictured), with the French government chartering three A380 Airbus planes
Departing travellers are seen at Sydney airport on Monday (pictured) as they prepared to leave the country during the COVID-19 pandemic
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 5,337
New South Wales: 2,389
Western Australia: 422
South Australia: 385
Australian Capital Territory: 87
Northern Territory: 22
TOTAL CASES: 5,337
The call comes soon after Mr Morrison told Australians not to go on holiday for Easter, fearing mass movement could increase the spread of the deadly virus.
He said families should not even drive to see relatives and instead stay at home, with many state borders already shut.
‘People should not be going away for Easter holidays. Holiday at home,’ he said.
‘People should not be getting in their cars and going to other places.’
The prime minister said his wife Jenny and two daughters had set up decorations at his house in Canberra in preparation for next weekend.
Mr Morrison said places of worship are closed to the public but services will be live-streamed.
He made the comments in a press conference in which he announced the government is working on a plan to save commercial tenants from eviction.
A police officer in Sydney checks that a returned traveller is self-isolating at home on Friday (pictured) amid fears that Australians coming back from overseas could spread the virus
Under a national code of conduct proposed by real estate groups, tenants participating in the JobKeeper scheme could ask landlords for a rent reduction proportionate to the amount of revenue they have lost due to coronavirus.
‘The turnover reduction of the tenant needs to be reflected in the rental waiver of the landlord,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘We want both parties to negotiate in good faith.’
This could mean that some tenants have to make no rental payments for months.
The code, expected to be finalised next week, will be mandatory and incorporated into state and territory legislation.
SOCIAL DISTANCING LAWS EXPLAINED STATE-BY-STATE: HOW TO AVOID GETTING CAUGHT OUT
Gatherings are restricted to two people, with residents only allowed out of their homes for a few essential reasons.
This includes buying food or essential goods, getting a medical treatment or engaging in physical exercise.
You can also visit a terminally ill relative or attend a funeral.
Students are also allowed to attend childcare, school, college or university.
From April 3, the state’s borders will be closed to everyone except residents and essential workers.
New South Wales
NSW officials are also enforcing the two-person limit, with residents legally obliged to stay at home unless they have a ‘reasonable excuse’.
This includes travelling to work or school, buying food or other essentials, exercise and medical reasons.
It is left up to police officers to decide who will get the fines, with the maximum being an $11,000 fine or six months in prison.
The state has also brought in the two-person limit inside and outside the home – not counting pre-exisitng members of the household.
Its chief medical officer Dr Brett Sutton confirmed an exception would made for people visiting their boyfriend or girlfriend if they lived separately.
Otherwise, people are allowed to leave the house for one of five reasons – shopping for food, work and education, care reasons, exercise or other extenuating circumstances.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT is also enforcing the two-person limit, but people are allowed up to two guests inside their homes – only if there is at least four square metres per person.
It also only allows people to leave home for essential reasons, including shopping for essentials, medical reasons, exercise, work or study.
Offenders are being issue with warnings, but may get a fine if they are found to be breaking the rules again.
As well as closing its borders to non-residents, WA has also introduced fines for people who cross out of their region.
Nine regions have been carved up, and people cannot move between them for anything but an essential reason.
This includes going to work, medical appointments, school or other types of education.
Drivers are also allowed to transport freight, and people can go to a shop outside of their area if the essentials are not available closer to home.
In NT, police are still enforcing a 10-person limit rather than just two people.
But chief minister Michael Gunner warned it may take further action if people don’t stick to the rules.
All non-essential arrivals in the state must self-quarantine for 14 days, and people are not allowed to visit remote communities.
Tasmania also has brought into law the two-person limit, with residents only allowed to leave home for essential reasons.
This includes shopping, exercising, and going to healthcare apppointments.
Going to a vet is also allowed, as is going to school or caring for another person.
Arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days.
SA has also stuck to the 10-person limit, with $1,000 on-the-spot fines for people who have a larger group.
Again, all arrivals into the state must self-isolate for 14 days.
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