As coronavirus cases in India surge to an unprecedented level, countries around the world are introducing new measures and travel restrictions that do not apply to citizens of said countries returning home.

Australia, however, has taken a whole new approach. Being amongst the top five countries with the strictest quarantine measures, Australia is banning anyone who has been in India in the past 14 days, including Australian residents and citizens.

As a result, Australian residents and citizens could and most likely would get arrested should they choose to return Down Under from Monday 3 May.The country has to this day been closed to most foreigners, however, Australian citizens and residents have generally been allowed to return home with a lengthy and pricey (paid by the traveller) quarantine completed at government facilities upon arrival.

Anyone who violates this rule and attempts to or enters Australia after tomorrow could face up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to 66,000 AUD. The restriction will be reviewed on 15 May, 2021.

This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that Australia has made it a criminal offence for Australians to return home.

As Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt describes this move:

“The government does 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.”

At the same time, other countries as well as citizens and residents currently in India who have been trying to return home have dubbed this measure “inhumane” and “over the top”.