Australia’s federal and state governments have announced drastic new measures to movements and gatherings in a bid to curb the rate of coronavirus infection in the country. With a number of new changes being announced, here’s a summary of what you need to know.
On Sunday evening, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the federal government was further extending measures to facilities hosting non-essential gatherings effectively closing down a number of cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs across the country.
“I am deeply regretful that those workers and those business owners, who will be impacted by this decision, will suffer the economic hardship that undoubtedly they will now have to face,” Morrison said in the announcement.
“That is a very, very regretful decision.”
The changes would kick in from midday local time on Monday 23 March and are expected to last for the next four weeks but Morrison warned it could be for as long as six months.
The closure of non-essential facilities extends to the following venues, according to the Department of Health:
- pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- gyms and indoor sporting venues
- cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and night clubs
- restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the one person per four square metre rule applies)
The department concludes the following are considered essential:
- health care settings
- food shopping
Essential gatherings will still see larger crowds permitted but the health department urges Australians to practise social distancing to minimise the chance of transmission. This means keeping a 1.5 metre distance from others and washing your hands thoroughly.
The restriction of 500 people for outdoor essential gatherings will continue, while indoor essential gatherings of up to 100 people are permitted.
Following the federal government’s announcement, each state and territory announced their own measures, which ramped up the restrictions across the nation.
NSW’s coronavirus restrictions
On Monday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced schools would remain open but recommended parents keep kids at home if they were able to.
“For parents that have no option, for parents that are workers, school is safe for children to attend and schools will remain open,” Berejiklian said.
In addition to that, there was going to be a 48-hour halt to all non-essential gatherings but that supermarkets, convenience stores, pharmacies, petrol stations, freight, logistics and home delivery services would stay open. It has since been superseded by the federal announcement.
It comes just days after Bondi Beach was closed due to beach-goers ignoring federal social distancing recommendations. NSW Police Minister David Elliott said other popular beaches in the state would close if visitors did not heed the warnings.
Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews similarly announced a 48-hour shutdown of non-essential services and venues, which has since been superseded by the federal announcement. Food outlets would still be able to sell food via delivery.
It also announced it was bringing the school holidays just under a week forward starting from 23 March.
“Term two is scheduled to begin on 14 April, unless I have advice, medical advice, not to proceed with term two,” Mr Andrews said in a press conference.
“I’m not making that announcement today.”
Queensland’s coronavirus restrictions
Queensland too is following in the steps of NSW and Victoria after the state’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, announced parents could keep children home but that schools would remain open for those that didn’t have the luxury.
It also reminded Queenslanders that now was not the time to take a holiday or head to the beach.
“This is about staying in your suburb. I need everyone to listen to advice and stay in your suburb,” the premier said. “Queensland has the best weather and it will be hard for people because we have to do it, because we are trying to lessen the curve.”
South Australia’s coronavirus restrictions
South Australia announced on Sunday it was closing down the border to non-essential travellers, adding that anyone arriving in the state would be put into a 14-day self-isolation.
Anyone hoping to enter the state through one of the 12 border crossing being targeted would need to sign a declaration about their health and that they’re willing to undergo a 14-day mandatory self-isolation period from 4pm local time on Tuesday 23 March.
The state government has yet to announce any changes to the school situation.
Western Australia’s coronavirus restrictions
Following the South Australian government’s new border measures, Western Australia announced similar restrictions.
From 1.30pm local time on Tuesday 24 March, the state’s premier Mark McGowan said sea, land, air and rail access points will be effectively closed to any incoming travellers or residents with all requiring to undertake a 14-day self-isolation period.
He also announced that Rottnest Island, the home of Western Australia’s quokka population, could be used as a quarantine station if people did not comply with self-isolation directives.
“It is to make sure that people who cannot or will not quarantine, we can put them somewhere where they can get proper attention and support in which they are properly isolated,” McGowan said in a press conference.
The Tasmanian Premier, Peter Gutwein, said it would be placing anyone arriving in the state, local or otherwise, into a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, effectively closing its borders to non-residents.
It also echoed restrictions on non-essential gathering as announced by the federal government on Sunday evening.
“The failure of people to do this, the failure of people to heed the rules and follow the law, will put people’s lives at risk,” Gutwein said in a press conference.
“Whilst we will review these on an ongoing basis, we should expect these measures to be in place for at least six months.”
Schools would remain open for now, in line with other states and territories, but from Wednesday 25 March, parents and carers could keep their children home if they were able.
ACT’s government said it would be following in the steps of neighbouring NSW to call on pupil-free days from Tuesday 24 March until the school holidays, which starts on Friday 10 April.
It has not yet announced any changes to border restrictions.
Northern Territory will also curb visitors to the region from Tuesday 23 March at 4pm in an effort to stop the further spread of coronavirus.
New arrivals will need to self-isolate for 14 days or face fines of up to $62,800. It’s likely these changes will be in place for up to six months.
This story will be updated as new announcements are made.
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