Date published: 
8 December 2020
Media type: 
Media release
General public

The human biosecurity emergency period under the Biosecurity Act 2015 is set to be extended by an additional three months.

The human biosecurity emergency declaration ensures the Government has the powers to take any necessary measures to prevent and control COVID-19, and protect the health of all Australians. These powers have been used on a limited basis following expert medical advice.

The emergency period, which has been in place since 18 March 2020, is now set to cease on 17 March 2021.

The recommendation from Government to the Governor General to extend the emergency period was informed by specialist medical and epidemiological advice provided by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer.

The AHPPC has advised the international COVID-19 situation continues to pose an unacceptable public health risk. The extension of the emergency period for a further three months is an appropriate response to that risk.

The proposed extension will be considered and formalised by the Governor General this week.

The existing restrictions that sit under this emergency declaration would remain in place to minimise the risk of introducing and spreading COVID-19 in our community. These include:

  • Limitations on the movement of cruise vessels.
  • Limitations on outbound international travel.
  • Restrictions on the operation of retail stores at international airports.

These restrictions are reviewed regularly and take into account the latest expert medical advice. They can be amended or removed at any time based on the expert medical advice.

The Australian Government is working closely with state and territory agencies and the cruise industry, to develop a framework for the staged resumption of cruise ships in a manner that is proportionate to the public health risk.