[This post has been updated with more links and updated information from insurance providers]
I debated about whether to write a post about the coronavirus as there is so much media attention out there already and I don’t want to add to the noise about it. But I decided I’d better write something as I keep getting questions about how the virus might affect your upcoming move to Australia, how it might affect your holiday to Australia, or (for those who now call Australia home) how it might impact your plans to travel overseas to visit relatives.
The aim of this post is to direct you towards the places to get the best advice and the most up to date travel information.
This post contains affiliate links which means the site earns a commission if you buy through our links at no extra cost to you. Our full disclosure is available in the footer.
Facts about COVID-19
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus that was first identified in China. It spreads through close contact through contaminated droplets that are spread through coughs or sneeze or by touching contaminated surfaces.
It can take from 2 days to 14 days to show symptoms after coming into contact with the virus. Symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and shortness of breath, and it may be more severe leading to pneumonia in some cases.
What is being done in Australia to stop the spread of COVID-19?
The global pandemic is now being taken very seriously around the world. The Australian government has brought in (and continues to bring in) new measures to attempt to flatten the curve of new cases to stop the hospitals from being overwhelmed. Things are changing at a rapid rate so I won’t share the latest updates in here as it will be quickly out of date. Instead, please refer to the sites below for the latest advice.
Where do I find the most up to date information and statistics about COVID-19?
World Health Organisation
To get up to date information about cases around the world, this page on the World Health Organisation site has daily situation reports. It lists the number of confirmed cases in the last 24 hours and how many cases there have been confirmed in total.
If you’re flying to or from Australia, it’s a good idea to check out the number of cases in all locations you’re visiting, including any stopover destination. Even if you plan on just passing through an airport to change planes, it’s worth being aware of numbers of cases there so you can stay up to date with the latest travel advice as that could still impact you even if you’re only in the country for a couple of hours.
The Home Affairs website is the place to find out what is going on in Australia and learn about the rules that are being brought in. The advice is changing fast so, please check this site for the most up to date information.
Smart Traveller is an Australian government site (aimed at Australians) with all of the latest news about the coronavirus. Visit Smart Traveller here.
Smart Traveller says:
‘We are monitoring closely the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and its implications for overseas travel. Many countries are now reporting cases. Many are introducing new entry restrictions. These are changing often and quickly. Overseas travel is becoming more complex.’
At the moment, international travel is in a state of flux. It is essential to keep up to date with this so that you can get the most up to date advice about your journey plans.
State and Territory Governments
Here in Australia, every state and territory will be handling things slightly differently. Remember, some states/territories may be affected more than others so you may find more lockdowns happening in some places and not others.
Here are the links to every State and Territory Government COVID-19 pages:
Your own government site
It’s also a good idea to check the government site for your country of origin if you’re in the process of moving to Australia. For instance, this site has advice for British people who are travelling or living abroad.
What kind of insurance do I need if I’m travelling?
I partner with two travel insurance companies for this site so I thought it was important to link to their coronavirus advice and information.
General travel insurance
World Nomads is my affiliate partner for general holiday travel insurance. This is for people who are travelling to a destination for a holiday and returning to their home again.
Please note: This article outlines how coronavirus might affect your travel insurance policy with World Nomads.
If you need to contact World Nomad with any questions, you can do so here.
One-way travel insurance
Go Walkabout is my affiliate partner for one-way travel insurance which is what you take out when you’re only travelling in one direction to emigrate.
[Updated: 17.3.20 – Following the escalation of COVID-19, Go Walkabout suspended the sale of new policies from 7pm on 13th March 2020. The policy underwriters are reviewing all policy wording terms and conditions. Services will hopefully be resumed soon. In the meantime, anyone who bought a policy prior to 7pm on 13/3/20 will still be covered under the terms and conditions outlined in their policy at the time of purchase.]
If you’re in doubt or you have any questions at all about things, you can call Go Walkabout on tel: 01424 223964 to ask.
My contact at Go Walkabout recommended this useful article on Money Saving Expert which covers travel advice and news plus information about choosing travel insurance. Just remember though, if you’re travelling one way to move to Australia then regular travel insurance probably won’t cover you as you’re only travelling on a one-way ticket. Always check and double-check exclusions.
I also found this article about what your travel insurance policy might not cover and what is ‘cancel for any reason’ insurance? Again, for this, you’d need to check if it will cover you if you’re only travelling in one direction with no return ticket.
Read the small print and if in doubt, contact your insurance provider to find out what exactly you are and aren’t covered for.
Banking during self-isolation
If you’ve opened a bank account from overseas with my partner, Commonwealth Bank, and moved money over to your account ready for your arrival in Australia then you need to be aware of the following:
- If a customer has opened an account prior to arriving in Australia and had deposited money into it, but have not been identified, they won’t be able to withdraw any funds from the account during this time.
- Branches will only be able to complete identification requirements once the 14 day seld-isolation period has expired.
- Customers should bring some money or international credit cards to assist them through the self-isolation period.
Is it safe to travel right now?
That is something for you to decide based on your government’s advice, which countries you’re travelling through and what you’re overall health is like.
At the moment, Australians are being urged not to travel, regardless of your age/health/destination.
For people who need to plan travel for later in the year, ensuring you have insurance as soon as you book is essential (don’t wait to get insurance later – take it out on the same day of booking your tickets and make sure it covers you for changing your mind).
Should cornoavirus stop me from moving to Australia?
No! If anything this should make you more determined to follow your dreams. This pandemic is on a global scale and the entire world is being impacted by it. The economic impact is going to be global, too.
BUT if your move is coming up very soon, then you have some important things to consider around the current rules and restrictions that are being put in place to decide whether now is the best time to move or whether to wait and evaluate. Things are changing quickly around the world and nobody can tell you what to do because nobody knows what is going to happen with any certainty.
With the current (as of 15/3/20) 14-day self-isolation restriction in place for new arrivals to Australia, you need to think about how you will manage this. That means having accommodation secured for long enough to see out your quarantine period and longer if you were to show symptoms towards the end of that period (please note, things have changed since 15.3.20 so you need to check the Home Affairs site for the most up to date advice about who is allowed to enter Australia). It means thinking about how you will access food if there are issues around online supermarket shopping (which are under a lot of demand at the moment – Coles has currently announced plans to stop online shopping to provide better access for the vulnerable and those in isolation but I’ve yet to hear details about his this is going to work). It will delay you getting set up in your new lives as you won’t be able to get out for your bank cards or to start looking at homes. IF (or probably more like WHEN) schools close, it could mean you’re unable to get your kids into a school.
It’s also worth being aware that with a much lower demand for air travel at the moment, many airlines are cancelling flights and moving people’s travel plans around to make them more efficient, so be aware that this could impact your plans at the last minute. Plus, if things get tighter, some airports may close altogether. (Please check Home Affairs for all of the latest news and advice).
An important thing to think about is what this is doing to the economy. Many industries have been seriously affected. Unless you’re in the health sector (or a niche that is booming right now), it isn’t a great time to be looking for work. It is likely to take you longer than usual to find positions (not just in Australia, but globally). I know many of my readers have left their jobs behind to move, and this is a really uncertain time for everyone.
What are the shops like in Australia right now and how will I access food during my self-isolation?
There has been plenty of craziness in Australia from panic-buyers. You will see some empty shelves in the supermarket at the moment. I shared this post about what I think on Facebook from earlier in the pandemic.
Shops are still open for business and they still have food and supplies, even if certain items are in short supply. If you’re just arriving, you’ll be in self-isolation anyway, so you’ll be ordering online for the first couple of weeks. Coles and Woolworths are the two supermarkets here that usually do online deliveries. With the news that Coles has suspended online deliveries to anyone other the vulnerable and isolated, you should still be able to access this service as you will fall into that bracket (read the news article here).
If you have any issues around online ordering though (or you need anything else like things from a chemist) you could try a service like Air Tasker to post a task for somebody to go and pick some things up for you.
Depending on where you are in the country, UberEats could be a handy app to add when you arrive for ordering local take aways and restaurant food. You can use this affiliate code to get $10 off (up to a certain amount that varies by location). Use this code: eats-karenb39017ue
If you are in my Move to Australia Facebook group and you need anything, please just ask in there and tag me (Karen Bleakley) so I can see it and do a bigger shout out for help if needed. We have members all over the country and I’m sure we’ll be able to find somebody close enough to pick some things up for you. I will always be happy to help personally where ever I can.
You will honestly find that people in Australia are really helpful and welcoming. If you’re struggling to get food or medicine delivered for any reason, ask people for help. Ring a store and explain the situation or even explain to your Air BnB host. Nobody will want you to break your quarantine trying to get access to food and I’m sure you’ll find people willing to help you.
It will all be fine – the shops are restocking regularly so don’t panic. The world has just gone a little insane temporarily but I’m hopeful that normal service will be resumed soon.
The thing to remember is that this won’t go on forever. Things will calm down. We need to just be kind to one another through this, take care of the people who are vulnerable and hope that our economy can bounce back quickly from it.