Two billion in lockdown as PM puts new restrictions in place

Normal life in Australia is over after an alarming explosion of coronavirus cases forced the government to shut down all remaining non-essential sectors and order people to stay at home.

It comes as two billion people are officially in lockdown after India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the country and its 1.3 billion inhabitants would go into a 21-day "complete" lockdown.

Australia's lockdown is being tightened to include food courts, auction rooms, real-estate auctions, open house inspections, massage parlours, beauty salons and a range of other non-essential services.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled further unprecedented measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus which will apply from midnight tonight.

Australia's "do not travel" advice has now been turned into a strict ban on overseas trips.

Limited exceptions will apply for compassionate travel, aid work and trips for essential employment.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to raise restrictions to stage two. Picture: Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to raise restrictions to stage two. Picture: Gary Ramage

Galleries, museums, libraries, swimming pools, children's play centres and community facilities will also have to close.

Cafes will continue to provide takeaway only. Food courts will be shut down except for takeaway.

Boot camps and personal training sessions are limited to a maximum of 10 people with strict social distancing rules observed.

Weddings may still continue, but only with a couple, a celebrant and their witnesses, as large gatherings are no longer allowed.

Funerals can only proceed with a maximum of 10 people observing social distancing rules.

Mr Morrison said Australians should not go out unless it is "absolutely necessary".

He said people should only be going outside if they were exercising, buying food and supplies, seeking medical care, going to work if they cannot work from home, and fulfilling caring responsibilities

Mr Morrison said it was safe for parents to send children to school. Schools will remain open but states and territories will deal with closures.

"We need to ensure kids get taught," he said.

"It's going to be a tough year in 2020 and one of the things I don't want to have yielded up is a year of a child's education, which is so important. We need to work so hard together to try and ensure that those kids get that education and that is not lost to this virus."

Barbecues, birthdays and house parties must be "kept to a minimum" with "very small numbers of guests".

"Visits to your premises, to your house, to your residence, should be kept to a minimum and with very small numbers of guests," the Prime Minister said.

"We don't want to be overly specific about that. We want Australians to exercise common sense.

"Gathering together, even around a large family table in the family home, when all the siblings get together and bring the kids, these are not things we can do now. All of these things present risks."

Mr Morrison said some states would be considering criminal penalties for people who hold large house parties.

The changes come after days of mixed messages over the shutdown of non-essential businesses such as nightclubs, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and gyms.

Younger people are being warned that the virus does not just affect the elderly. Picture: Getty
Younger people are being warned that the virus does not just affect the elderly. Picture: Getty

Mr Morrison said he was "deeply sorry" to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who had already, or what shortly lose their jobs.

Mr Morrison rejected suggestions the rules agreed to by National Cabinet - such as limiting weddings to five people but allowing bootcamps to have ten - were contradictory.

"Up to ten (people) for a training (session), that is a business, that is someone's livelihood and you are saying that I should turn their livelihood off. I'm not going to do that lightly," he said. "Where possible the National Cabinet together is going to try and keep Australia functioning in a way that continues to support jobs and activity in our economy which is not going to compromise the health advice that we're receiving."

 

 

An aged care centre has signs warning people not to enter. Picture: Getty
An aged care centre has signs warning people not to enter. Picture: Getty

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said people must avoid any unnecessary interactions with close contact.

"These measures are really draconian," he said.

"We know that. But if we're going to control community transmission, we have to stop the capacity of this virus from spreading from person to person."

THE NEW RULES

BUSINESS
From midnight on Wednesday food courts in shopping centres will only be available for takeaway food.

Auctions and open house inspections are banned.

Outdoor and indoor markets are banned while rules around major food markets will be addressed by states and territories.

Personal services such as beauty therapy and tattoo parlours (but not physiotherapy) are banned.

Hairdressers and barbers can continue but must strictly manage social distancing and restrict the amount of time a patron can be in the premises to no more than 30 minutes.

Amusement parks and arcades, and indoor and outdoor play centres must close.

Boot camps and personal training must be limited to 10 people.

Galleries, museums, libraries and swimming pools must close.

SOCIAL DISTANCING
Weddings can continue to be conducted where it is just the couple the celebrant and two witnesses, no more than five people.

Funerals are limited to no more than 10 people.

SCHOOLS
It is safe to send children to school up to the end of the term.

But some pupil-free days will be needed to plan distance learning.

Schools will reopen after the term break with a mix of distance learning and in-school learning for all "essential workers".

PM to meet with teachers and other sector representatives about keeping schools open and protecting staff.

ESSENTIAL WORKERS
Everyone who still has a job is an essential worker.

TRAVEL
The official "do no travel" warning will turn into an outright ban on overseas travel, with some exceptions such as aid workers and compassionate travel.

New offence of profiteering and seeking to export goods overseas, relating to such things as medical supplies and masks.

VIRUS AFFECTS YOUNG AS WELL AS ELDERLY
COVID-19 is not just a disease for old people with 50 Australians under the age of 20 already contracting the illness including three infants under the age of four.

Young people, including babies, have died from the illness around the world.

The bulk of cases (56 per cent) in Australia have occurred in people under the age of 50.

Even though the elderly are at greater risk of dying from the virus only 10 per cent of COVID-19 cases in Australia have been aged over 70, Health Department data shows.

All of the people who have died from COVID-19 in Australia have been older than 70 years of age and more than one in five of those aged under 80 who get the virus are likely to die.

NSW Health confirmed 27 (three per cent) of the state's COVID-19 cases were under the age of 20.

Victoria's health department said 185 cases were aged between 15-44 and three were under the age of 14 with preschoolers also affected by the virus.

The alarming figures prompted Australian Medical Association NSW president Dr Kean-Seng Lim to urge young people not to under estimate the risk of the virus.

"COVID-19 can and does kill young people as well," he said.

"Some of the sickest patients we've had in NSW have been younger people," he said.

"If you look at Italy and the US and England we are seeing intensive care units with young people in them," he said.



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