COVID-19: Morrison announces latest restrictions

By Shannon Jenkins

Wednesday March 25, 2020

Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference in the Blue Room at Parliament House in Canberra, March 24, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (AAP Image/Getty Pool, Sam Mooy)

The prime minister has announced greater restrictions on businesses and non-essential services in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Scott Morrison announced the new measures on Tuesday night following a meeting of the National Cabinet. He urged the public to stay at home unless shopping for essentials, exercising, and travelling to and from work — if working from home is not an option. Schools will also remain open.

“Keep visitors to your home at a minimum. In outdoor spaces do not congregate in groups,” he added.

He argued social isolation and “strict and rapid contact tracing of individuals” are the “highest priority”.

“It is paramount that contact tracing occur quickly and thoroughly and that public data is available to support this effort,” he said.

“We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs.”

New restrictions

The government has banned Australians from travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015, and has raised the Smartraveller Travel Advice to “Do Not Travel” overseas.

The Australian Border Force will handle any exemptions, such as essential travel, where travel is “in our national interest”, travel on compassionate and humanitarian grounds, and for citizens who live overseas.

Cafes and food courts can offer takeaway and home delivery services only, with the exception of those at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; and services providing food to the homeless. Workplace canteens are permitted to provide takeaway only.

Community and recreation centres can only stay open to host essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.

Local government non-essential facilities and services (like libraries), galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites, youth centres, community facilities (such as RSLs and halls), and places of worship all must close. Weddings can be held with a maximum of five people, and funerals can be attended by no more than 10 people. Both must follow the one person per four square metre rule.

Auction houses will close. Real estate auctions and open house inspections can operate by private appointments for inspection only.

All forms of beauty salons, tattoo parlours, spas and massage parlours must close, with the exception of hairdressers and barber shops. They can operate for appointments of up to 30 minutes, but must follow the one person per four square metre rule.

All entertainment venues, including cinemas, casinos, amusement parks and outdoor play centres, must close. Small groups can live stream performances if they practice social distancing.

Boot camps and personal training groups can operate outside with no more than 10 people, and social distancing must be exercised. All other health and recreation centres must close.

Decisions for states and territories

State and territory governments will decide whether outdoor and indoor markets can operate, aside from food markets, which can remain open nationwide.

They will also have the final say on the closure of hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses, with the exception of permanent residents and workers.

People who are temporarily living in caravan parks because their primary residence is not available can continue to do so.

Further measures

The commonwealth government will attempt to prevent individuals from re-selling prevention-related goods at a high price, including face masks, hand sanitiser and vital medicines, and from exporting them overseas in bulk.

The measures won’t affect normal consumer buying of products, commercial imports and exports, or other appropriate bulk sales.

National Cabinet will meet again on Wednesday, “to work through a series of other issues, which includes a further consider of possible measures down the track”.

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