For the first time in Australia's history, the government has urged Australians not to travel anywhere overseas in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has raised the travel advice to level four — do not travel — and recommended Australians overseas planning to return to the country in the coming months should do so as soon as possible.
In a press conference on March 18, Prime Minister Scott Morrison doubled down on the update.
"We are upgrading the travel ban on Australians to level 4 for the entire world," Morrison said in the press conference. "That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia's history. The travel advice to every Australian is 'Do not travel abroad'. Do not go overseas. That is very clear that instruction."
If you've already got plans in the coming six months, it's urged you reconsider your travel as the window for returning safely — or at all — becomes smaller.
"The biggest risk we have had and the biggest incidents of cases we have had, which Dr Murphy can go into, has been from Australians returning from overseas. From many countries that you wouldn't have expected that to be a source and so it is very important that Australians do not travel abroad at this time," Morrison said.
"That is an indefinite ban but, as you are seeing from other countries around the world, they are putting similar restrictions on entry, just as Australia has on others coming into Australia and you would expect that to be in place now and that is the stage we have reached."
A level four advice is the most stringent travel warning. Smartraveller explains if you decide not to heed warnings, you should get professional security advice and understand your travel insurance policy might be void and the government's help might be limited.
It comes as the nation's airlines have announced significant cuts to international services. Qantas said it would be cutting its international service by 90 per cent from March 17 while its domestic services would be slashed by 60 per cent.
Virgin Australia similarly confirmed it would be suspending all international services between March 30 to June 14 while domestic flights would be cut by 50 per cent.
This story is developing.