Prime Minister Scott Morrison has effectively placed the country into near-total social shutdown, announcing sweeping new measures to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
From midnight on Wednesday, existing restrictions will be extended to include:
- Food courts inside shopping centres – however, take-away will be allowed
- Auction houses
- Real estate auctions and open house inspections
- Outdoor and indoor markets – excluding food markets
- Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, massage and tattoo parlours
- Amusement parks and arcades
- Play centres, both indoor and outdoor
- Community and recreation centres
- Personal training will be limited to 10 people, with social distancing strictly enforced
- Social and sporting-based activities, involving large groups
- Galleries, museums, libraries and community facilities
- Community clubs, halls and RSLs
- Weddings are restricted to couples, the celebrant and witnesses (no more than five people)
- Funerals have been restricted to no more than 10 people
States and territories will take control of decisions surrounding food markets, the prime minister said.
Hairdressers and barber shops will be allowed to continue, but social distancing must be strictly managed and time must be restricted to no more than 30 minutes, preferably less.
Shopping centres will remain open, but retail premises will be limited to businesses not included in the list of restrictions.
PM clear: Stay at home
Social distancing measures have also been increased, with the prime minister telling Australians to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary.
The government has also “strongly encouraged” people to work from home.
Visits to your house should be kept to a minimum and with a very small numbers of guests.
The prime minister told Australians to “exercise their common sense” in determining the size of these gatherings.
Morrison has also doubled down on the decision to keep schools open, saying the government will meet with the Australian Education Union to best decide how to continue to safely deliver schooling.
The prime minister says any job, no matter what it may be, is an essential job – citing that as the reason schools must remain open.
“Jobs are essential, and everyone who has one needs to be able to keep doing their job.
“And that means being able to keep their children at school.”
“(Schools) will reconvene after the term break and there will be a mixture of distance learning,” Morrison said.
“Where parents choose to keep their children at home, there will be learning that is there for them to undertake.
“Parents would be needing to take responsibility for ensuring that their children are engaged in that.”
Previous Do Not Travel restrictions for overseas travel have now been escalated to a ban using biosecurity powers.
“The number of people and the number who are leaving Australia now is very, very low,” Morrison said.
“But, still, it strikes me on those numbers that there are people defying that advice and still looking to go overseas on leisure travel.
“They can’t do it, because when they come home, that’s when they put Australians at risk.”
The prime minister says there will be exceptions to the rules, including for thosee involved in aid work in the Pacific, compassoinate travel and essential travel for employment.
‘Heartbreaking moments in history’
“I said in the parliament that 2020 for most Australians was going to be their toughest year, and what we have seen unfolding this week has been just that,” Morrison said.
“These are heartbreaking moments in our nation’s history, and story.
“We are not unconscious of the real impacts these measures are having on the daily lives of Australians.
“If we use common sense rules and do the right thing, that’s how we slow the spread of this virus and that’s how we save lives.”
Morrison has also promised urgent efforts to increase capacity in the government’s welfare systems.
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