Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt announced today that cruise ships will continue to be barred from entering the country’s waters until December 17, 2020. The ban comes as part of the the country’s Biosecurity Act enacted in 2015 which gives the Government the authority to limit travel to and from the country in the event of biosecurity threats such as pandemics or agricultural situations. The ban applies to any ship with 100 or more passengers. The ban also extends to air travel, as the country prohibits international travel for citizens unless they are a resident of another country.
The original cruise ban issued in March was scheduled to end in June but was extended to September and now to December. There are cruise lines sailing within the country, however. Captain Cook Cruises, a local river cruise line, began sailing the Murray River in June for Australian citizens only.
From Health Minister Greg Hunt’s statement:
The extension of the emergency period was informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC). AHPPC has advised that the international and domestic COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk. The extension of the emergency period is an appropriate response to that risk.
Like most countries with a robust tourism sector, Australia has been struggling with a lack of visitors and the negative impact to the economy cannot be understated. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) estimated that the cost of the cruise ship shutdown for Australia thus far is around $1.4 billion (AUD) and counting. The longer the shutdown continues, the higher that number will climb.
All in all, Australia has done well limiting the spread of Coronavirus thus far. The country, with a population of 25 million, has recorded 26,049 positive cases and 678 deaths since the pandemic began. By comparison, the state of Florida, with a population of over 21 million, has recorded 633,000 cases with 11,500 deaths.
Have you cruised to Australia? Let us know what you thought of the country in the comments below!