Australians returning home from India will be banned from entering the country from Monday and could face jail if they disobey.
Government officials have said that it will be a criminal offence for Australians and citizens who have been in India to return home, including those who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return.
The temporary emergency ruling, issued late on Friday, is the first time Australia has made it a criminal offence for its citizens to return home.
The move is part of strict measures to stop travellers entering Australia from the world’s second most populous nation as it contends with a surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths.
On Saturday, India saw another record daily rise in cases, making it the first country in the world to surpass the 400,000 mark.
The new restrictions come into effect in Australia from 3 May, and those who breach the ban risk civil penalties and up to five years imprisonment, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.
He told fellow Australians his government did not make these decisions lightly. “However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of Covid-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level,” he said.
The Government of Australia will reconsider the restrictions on 15 May.