Norfolk Island has closed its borders and has declared a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic.

There are no known cases of COVID-19 on the island, but the Administrator of the Australian territory has announced a travel ban to protect its predominantly older population.

Only residents and essential staff will be able to travel to Norfolk Island until further notice, and anyone returning to the island will need to self-isolate for 14 days.

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"In recognition of Norfolk Island being a remote community and its vulnerability to coronavirus, I have declared a state of emergency," said administrator Eric Hutchinson.

"The population on Norfolk Island is, on average, older than the population on the mainland. This, together with the Island's remote location and limited diagnostic and medical capability, makes the island more vulnerable to the virus.

Only residents and essential staff will be able to travel to Norfolk Island until further notice. Photo / Bethany Rolston
Only residents and essential staff will be able to travel to Norfolk Island until further notice. Photo / Bethany Rolston

"The island's remote location means that some people would need to be aero medically evacuated to the mainland should the virus take effect."

Both Air Chathams and Air New Zealand fly to Norfolk Island, although Air New Zealand flies via Australia. The two airlines are working with agencies to manage the new arrangements.

Air New Zealand flights will continue but will reduce in frequency and only carry passengers who are residents or essential staff.

Medical evacuation flights are exempt from travel restrictions.

"Businesses and individuals on Norfolk Island will have access to a range of measures designed to protect the economy, maintain confidence and keep people in jobs," said Hutchinson in a statement. "Within this package, AUD$1 billion has been set aside to support regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected, including those that are heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education."

While the travel ban is designed to protect residents, the island is heavily reliant on tourism.

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Resident Malcolm Dowling told the ABC the impact would be significant.

"There will be people here struggling big time.

"It's going to affect the people who cook for the tour companies, the bus drivers, the accommodation places.

"It will have a huge flow-on effect," he told the news agency.

Norfolk Island is an external territory of Australia, with a population of roughly 1700.

It used to be governed by its own legislative assembly, but in 2015, the Australian parliament made the bipartisan decision to revoke Norfolk Island's autonomy.

Many residents on the islandstill refuse to call themselves Australian.