People who violate the travel ban from India to Australia by taking connecting flights in a third country could face up to five years in prison, the Australian government announced on Saturday in an attempt to prevent a new wave of Covid infections.
As of Monday, any traveler arriving in Australia who has been in India for the past 14 days may be fined or imprisoned. The measure was announced earlier this week and will remain in effect until at least May 15.
The threat came after travelers on flights with connections from India violated the government’s attempt to temporarily block flights to the Southeast Asian country.
“The government does not take these decisions lightly,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.
“It is critical that the integrity of Australia’s public health and quarantine systems is protected, and the number of quarantined Covid-19 cases is maintained at a manageable level,” he added.
Human Rights Watch, an NGO, called the ad “shameful”.
“The government should look for safe forms of quarantine for Australians returning from India, instead of focusing their efforts on prison and severe punishment,” said the NGO’s director in Australia, Elaine Pearson.