PRIME MINISTER – MEDIA STATEMENT – UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS MEASURERS – TUESDAY 24 MARCH 2020
The Hon. Scott Morrison MP
Tuesday 24 March 2020
UPDATE ON CORONAVIRUS MEASURES
Australian governments are working together to slow the spread of coronavirus to save lives.
Every extra bit of time allows us to better prepare our health system and put measures in place to protect Australian lives.
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.
The Prime Minister, state and territory Premiers and Chief Ministers met on 24 March 2020 as the National Cabinet.
We are leading the world on testing with more than 161,000 Australians tested and around 2,000 Australians confirmed cases. In contrast to many countries, the majority of Australian cases of coronavirus have been from people returning overseas or direct contacts with people who had been overseas.
However, National Cabinet noted that there has been a significant growth in the number of cases in Australia, with a significant number of Australians returning from overseas and small community outbreaks associated with returned travellers.
National Cabinet reiterated that practicing good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives.
The highest priority should be placed on social isolation measures as well as strict and rapid contact tracing of individuals. It is paramount that contact tracing occur quickly and thoroughly and that public data is available to support this effort.
Leaders again call on all Australian to do their bit to save the lives of other Australians.
Australians should stay at home, unless shopping for essentials, travelling to and from work – where you cannot work from home, going to school and exercising. Keep visitors to your home at a minimum. In outdoor spaces do not congregate in groups.
Leaders thank those members of the public who are adhering to social distancing measures. However, leaders expressed their disappointment at some members of the community who are disregarding social distancing measures and, by doing so, putting the lives of older and vulnerable Australians at risk.
Ban on Australians travelling overseas
Leaders noted that the Commonwealth Government will implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
This will help avoid travellers returning to Australia with coronavirus and the risks of spreading coronavirus to other countries.
Exemptions, which will be managed by the Australian Border Force, will apply to a range of categories of travellers, including for those citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds.
This prohibition is aligned with the Government’s decision to raise the Smartraveller Travel Advice to Level 4 – Do Not Travel overseas.
Clarification of current measures and new measures
If we want to slow the spread of the virus, everyone must implement appropriate social distancing in accordance with state and territory laws.
National Cabinet agreed to new and enhanced social distance measures, building on the existing measures that are in place.
National Cabinet confirmed and clarified the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice regarding the requirements of previously announced measures, in particular those related to non-essential gatherings and outdoor gatherings.
National Cabinet will meet again on Wednesday 25 March 2020.
Additional prohibited activities and venues to apply from 11.59pm (local time) 25 March 2020
Business, premises or place Exceptions
Food and drink
Cafes Takeaway service and home delivery Cafés or canteens at hospitals, care homes or schools; prison and military canteens; services providing food or drink to the homeless, workplace canteens can provide takeaway
Food courts Delivery and takeaway can remain operational
Real estate auctions and open house inspections Private appointments for inspection
Outdoor and indoor markets will be a decision for each state and territory Food markets will continue to operate in all states and territories
Beauty and personal care services
Hairdressers and barber shops Up to 30 minute appointments and the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies in the premises
Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours
Spas and massage parlours
Casinos, gaming or gambling venues
Strip clubs, brothels and sex on premises venues
Concert venues, theatre, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums Live streaming of a performance by a small group could be permissible with social distancing observed
Amusement parks and arcades
Play centres (indoor and outdoor)
Leisure and recreation
Community and recreation centres Facilities may remain open for the purpose of hosting essential voluntary or public services, such as food banks or homeless services.
Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
Boot camps, personal training operating outside and inside For outside events, limited to groups of no more than 10 people and social distancing must be exercised.
Social sporting-based activities
Hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses will be a decision for each state and territory Excluding permanent residents and workers.
Caravan and camping parks will be a decision for each state and territory Where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, they may continue to do so.
Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites
Libraries, community centres, and youth centres
Local government non-essential facilities and services (such as libraries and pools)
Community facilities (such as community halls, clubs, RSLs, PCYCs);
Places of worship, weddings and funerals Weddings with a maximum attendance of no more than 5 people and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies. Funerals attended by a maximum of no more than 10 people and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies.
Action to prevent price gouging and exportation of critical sanitary and medical products
The Commonwealth Government will take action to help prevent exploitative price gouging and exporting products that are essential to preventing and controlling the spread of coronavirus.
These measures will help prevent individuals purchasing goods including face masks, hand sanitiser and vital medicines and either re-selling them at significant mark-ups or exporting them overseas in bulk, which prevents these goods from reaching people who need them in Australia.
These measures will not be designed to affect normal consumer buying of goods, commercial imports and exports, or other appropriate bulk sales.