Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australia will close its borders to all non-citizens and non-residents from tomorrow, March 20, at 9pm. The extreme measure is being taken, he says, because 80 per cent of cases involve people who have either been infected overseas or been in close contact with someone who has returned from overseas.

The ban will apply to all travellers except citizens, residents and direct family members of citizens. New Zealand is implementing a similar ban from midnight tonight. Morrison says the government is currently working with Qantas, which this morning announced mass employment suspension and flight cancellations, to get Australians home.

Morrison again reiterated his message from yesterday, calling for Australians to stop panic-buying food to stockpile. “What there is an issue with is the behaviour of Australians at supermarkets. That is what is causing the distress and the strain.

“The food supply in Australia from the meetings we held is something we can feel confident about. If Australians respond to that, it will mean Australians can access the things they need when they need it. I would ask Australians for their cooperation on those issues.”

The Prime Minister did not say when the restrictions would lift, or what the trigger for reopening the border might be.