Australia’s Border Force has extended a restriction on cruise ships entering the country’s waters for a further three months, to last until Sept. 17.
“Any cruise ship capable of carrying more than 100 passengers is prohibited from operating cruises in Australia,’’ the government border protection agency said in a statement on Friday.
Australia is currently under a “human biosecurity emergency” until Sept. 17, which gives authority to the federal health minister to exercise emergency powers, to prevent or control the spread of COVID-19.
Border Force said the federal health minister had, therefore, made a determination on extending the cruise ship prohibition, which includes direct arrivals and round trip cruises.
The ban on cruise ships first came into place on March 27.
At the time, there were still 28 international cruise ships in Australian waters, but all have since left Australian waters.
Australia has recorded 7,081 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with only 509 active cases remaining, and 101 related fatalities.
According to Australian health authorities, coronavirus cases from cruise ships, including domestic and international travellers, are responsible for more than a quarter of confirmed COVID-19 infections and about one-third of the country’s death toll.
One cruise ship, Ruby Princess, which was allowed to dock in Sydney Harbour on March 8 after 11 days at sea, has turned out to be the single biggest source of COVID-19 cases in Australia, with more than 650 people – about a quarter of the ship’s total passengers – contracting the virus.
The ship is also responsible for at least 22 COVID-19-related deaths and it is currently subject of two inquiries.