NEWS
24/03/2020 11:59 AM AEDT | Updated 25/03/2020 10:54 AM AEDT

Australia's Death Toll Rises, Level Two Of Restrictions Announced

The PM said house parties and big BBQs could be considered an offence.

(Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a press conference in the Blue Room at Parliament House on March 24, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. There are now 2146 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia and the death toll now stands at eight.

At least 2,136 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Australia and eight people have died.

New South Wales has the most cases at 913.

The virus has killed more than 16,000 people worldwide and continues to spread at a rapid pace. Efforts to curb the outbreak have led to the global disruption of daily life and the economy, as schools and workplaces shutter in hopes of slowing transmission.

HuffPost reporters around the world are tracking the pandemic and the measures being taken to flatten the curve of transmission.

Here is what is happening in Australia today:   

Stage Two of Lockdown Announced 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday announced ‘Stage Two’ of Australia’s lockdown rules in a bid to flatten the curve of coronavirus, as Australia confirmed more than 2000 cases. 

Arcades, galleries, museums and play centres will close along with food courts.  Supermarkets within shopping centres will stay open. 

Real estate auctions and open house inspections have been ordered to end. 

Hairdressers and barbers can stay open but under strict rules although beauty salons and massage services will be banned from Wednesday. 

Weddings are only allowed to have five people and funerals can be held with 10 people in attendance. 

“Large gatherings for weddings, sadly, won’t be possible under these new arrangements. Sadly, also, and I know this will be very difficult, funerals to no more than 10 persons observing the rules around the 4-square metre rule and the social distancing practices,” he said. 

The PM added house parties and big BBQs could be considered an offence. 

Schools will remain open for now.

Travel Prohibition  

The PM also announced an upgrade to the Department of Foreign Affairs’ current Level Four do-not-travel to anywhere in the world advice to a formal ban. 

“There will be exceptions to these rules which will be set out in the directive that will be provided,” he said. 

“It may involve compassionate travel and essential travel for employment, things of that nature. But the number of people and the number who are leaving Australia now is very, very low. 

“But, still, it strikes me on those numbers there are people defying that device and looking to ― advice and looking to go overseas on leisure travel. 

“They can’t do because when they come home they put Australians at risk.”

 

James D. Morgan via Getty Images
 Ruby Princess belonging to cruise ship company Princess Cruises, departs Sydney Harbour with no passengers and only crew on board as it passes the Opera House sails on March 19, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images)

Ruby Cruise Passenger Dies

Australia’s coronavirus death toll hit eight on Tuesday after a female passenger from the Ruby Princess cruise ship died in hospital.

The woman, in her 70s, was taken to hospital when the ship docked in Sydney Harbour last week. Nearly 2700 passengers were allowed to get off the ship last Thursday.  

 
AFP via Getty Images
Thousands of people lined up again on Tuesday at Centrelinks around Australia.

A Million Jobs Lost In One Day

“Hundreds of thousands, maybe a million” people were left without jobs overnight after the government enforced the closure of non-essential businesses on Monday, Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said.

“My bad, not realising the sheer scale of the decision on Sunday night by the national leaders,” he said.

“That literally saw hundreds and hundreds of thousands, maybe a million people, unemployed overnight.”

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston confirmed 100,00 people were trying to use the My Gov website at one time on Monday when it crashed but promised up to 150,000 people should be able to use the service. 

Twitter users said the site crashed again on Tuesday. 

Thousands of people lined up at Centrelink centres across the country again on Tuesday to claim Scott Morrison’s $17.6 and $66 billion stimulus packages.  Unprecedented demand meant crowds were turned away with Nine News reporting people were leaving in tears. 

The stimulus in an attempt to prevent the Coronavirus pandemic pushing the Australian economy into its first recession since 1991. 

More information on financial relief here.

 

Mark Metcalfe via Getty Images
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

NSW At ‘Critical Stage’, Will Use Penalties To Enforce Self-Isolation 

New South Wales will use harsh penalties to enforce self-isolation, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Tuesday, as the coronavirus pandemic was at a “critical stage.”

“We need to make sure everybody who’s in self-isolation stays in self-isolation. We are ramping up our compliance,” she told reporters. “There are harsh penalties and we’ll enforce that. We have to take this seriously.”

The number of COVID-19 cases in NSW jumped by 149 overnight to 818. The total number of cases across Australia has surpassed 1,700, up from less than 100 at the start of March.

Berejiklian did not specify how the self-isolation rules will be enforced.

She pointed to countries that did not control the spread of the virus early on.

“I don’t want to be another example of a jurisdiction that didn’t do what it needed to do at the right time,” she said.

QLD Shuts Its Borders 

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Tuesday the state will shut its borders to non-essential travellers. 

“We don’t want people from New South Wales and Victoria coming up here to Queensland,” Palaszczuk said in a press conference. 

“People should stay in their own state. Where, as far as possible, they should be staying in their suburbs, and as much as possible, staying at home.” 

 Palaszczuk also urged Queenslanders not to travel around the state and that travel for Easter holidays is not an option. 

Matt King via Getty Images
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: FFA CEO James Johnson speaks to the media during a press conference regarding the A-League season at FFA Offices on March 24, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

A-League Soccer Season Postponed

Australia’s A-League was suspended due to the coronavirus on Tuesday, with administrators’ saying it was no longer tenable for the country’s top-flight soccer competition to continue.

“FFA has taken a very tough and difficult decision to postpone the final rounds of the ... A-League. The postponement is effective immediately,” Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson told reporters at a media conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

“The FFA will review this situation in the coming weeks and a further status assessment is now scheduled for April 22.”

Hagen Hopkins via Getty Images
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to media during a press conference at Parliament on March 23, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

New Zealand Shuts Down

Cases of COVID-19 crossed the 100 mark in New Zealand this week as the government imposed self-isolation for everyone, with all-non-essential services, schools and offices to be shut for one month. The action takes effect from midnight on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the lockdown gives the country of about 5 million people a good chance of beating the virus.

“Yes we can ... we have a window and we have used it,” Ardern said on TVNZ.

“But I’m asking all New Zealanders, this plan will only work if you help us. You may feel resilient and well, but it’s not just about you. It’s about everyone around you,” she said.

“If we all do this together then we can do this.”