Coronavirus Travel Restrictions – Implications for Australian Visas
As the world brought in the new decade on the 31st of December 2019, Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to what would quickly become an epidemic with more than ten thousand confirmed cases two months later.
As a result of the severity of the situation, and with the WHO declaring a Global Health Emergency on the 31st of January 2020, the Australian government announced on the 1st of February 2020 that it would be imposing travel restrictions immediately, with flag-carrier Qantas announcing it would suspend its services to mainland China starting from the 9th of February.
From the 1st of February, these travel restrictions include:
- All travelers arriving from any part of mainland China are subject to stronger border control measures
- Anyone who has left from
or transited through Mainland China, except for:
- Australian Citizens
- Australian Permanent Residents
- The immediate family members of the above (including spouses, minor dependents and legal guardians)
- Airline and maritime crew (in limited circumstances)
will be denied entry into the country.
- Those who are exempt from the restrictions (as per the above) but have been through mainland China will be required to self-isolate for 14 days starting from their exit from the country.
- Any temporary visa holders who have left from or transited through Mainland China and who have become ineligible for re-entry into the country as a result of the restrictions will have their visas cancelled. However, “arrangements will be made” to restore these visas when the travel restriction is lifted.
An extract from the Procedures Advice Manual, the key resource for decision making within the Department of Home Affairs, also states:
“A delegate may cancel a visa under s116(1)(e) if satisfied that the presence of its holder in Australia is or may be, or would or might be, a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community, or to the health or safety of an individual or individuals.” 
If any individual who falls into the restricted category does arrive in Australia, their visa will be cancelled, and they will be placed “in an alternative place of detention for a quarantine period”. There are more than 600 Australian citizens in the city of Wuhan who have applied for advice or assistance with their situation .
Finally, it is important to note that these measures are temporary and will be reviewed on the 14/15 of February 2020, in an effort to maintain the “health, safety and well-being of the Australian community.”
While there are also calls for an outright travel ban , the Australian Government is working with several agencies and states to mitigate the coronavirus risk without a severe impact to regular operations. For more information regarding the virus itself, you can visit, https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov
 ‘Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCoV) | Australian Government Department of Health’ <https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov>
 ‘Novel coronavirus and Australian visas’ <https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/archive/article?itemId=355>
 ‘MIGRATION ACT 1958 – SECT 116 Power to Cancel’ <http://www5.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/ma1958118/s116.html>
 ‘Coronavirus: Timeline Shows How Virus Spread around the World’ <https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/health-problems/timeline-shows-how-deadly-coronavirus-spread-around-the-world/news-story/5cb78d4fbaf6fa40d5c96a7a5585822f>
 ‘Australians Quarantined at the Border amid Suspended Qantas Flights’ <https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/health-safety/queenslands-premier-demands-government-ban-china-flights-after-tenth-australian-case-confirmed/news-story/6006599d9ddfef68bcc01890a2f0156a>