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Citing Potential for Election-Related Violence, Australia and New Zealand Update Warnings Against Travel to US

"Take precautions to keep safe during the election season."

Members of a far-right paramilitary group in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia on August 15, 2020.

Members of a far-right paramilitary group in downtown Stone Mountain, Georgia on August 15, 2020. (Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images)

The Australian and New Zealand governments updated just days before the American presidential election advisories to their citizens currently in the U.S., urging them to steer clear of political and election related protests because of the potential for violence.

Australia currently has an overseas travel ban in place, with some exceptions allowed, as a means of stemming the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an update posted October 30, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade reiterated to those who may be seeking such an exemption its advice to not travel to the U.S., noting that "Covid-19 remains a serious health risk."

"Take precautions to keep safe during the election season," the department states.

The advisory also points to the "widespread protests and demonstrations" that have swept U.S. cities over the past five months. "Some protests have turned violent. Avoid areas where protests are occurring due to the ongoing potential for unrest and violence."

"Violent crime is more common than in Australia and gun crime is possible in all areas," the government warning states. It also suggests that Aussies residing in the U.S. "learn active shooter drills" and be aware that "medical costs are high."

New Zealand, which is continuing its "do not travel" advisor for any overseas location because of the coronavirus pandemic, likewise drew attention to the ongoing protests in U.S. cities in an advisory posted October 27.

"Even protests or political rallies, which are intended to be peaceful, can result in violence," the New Zealand government's Safe Travel website warns.

Kiwis currently in the U.S. should expect the violence to potentially be meted out by state authorities, the statement warns.

"A strong police and/or National Guard presence can be expected at any further protests. Police measures have, at times, included the use of rubber bullets and/or pepper spray to disperse crowds."

"If you find yourself in an area of protest/political activity or civil unrest," the update adds, "you should leave the area if it is safe to do so or remain indoors until the situation improves."

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