Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the closure of many ‘non-essential’ businesses from midday Monday as Australia deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The new shutdown rules come amid global outrage after Aussies and tourists packed many Sydney beaches on Friday, rubbing shoulders and breaking the 1.5m social distancing rule.
“We’ve seen some irresponsible behaviour from people who were told to quarantine and have not,” Morrison said in a press conference on Sunday.
“And they have spread the virus. We now have to be absolutely rigid.”
After the emergency National Cabinet meeting, the PM told reporters pubs, registered and licensed clubs, gyms and indoor sporting venues will shut down, while restaurants and cafes will be limited to takeaway orders only. Casinos, cinemas, church services and entertainment venues will also shut down.
The shutdown is predicted to last six months.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, service stations, beauty salons, hairdressers and the accomodation side of hotels will remain open.
The PM added that schools will stay open.
Australia’s Chief Health Officer Brendan Murphy said that the “risk to children of coronavirus is extremely low”.
“The consensus view of all of the chief health officers we signed up to today was, at this time, schools should stay open. We are talking about measures for the long term for several months and that’s why we made that decision.”
Victoria has decided to not follow the direction to keep its schools open and will bring the term-end forward to Tuesday, while NSW will end the term as planned on Thursday 9 April.
Morrison said parents who wish to keep their children at home till the end of term are welcome to do so, though it’s their responsibility to then ensure their kids are safe.
He also said the term break will be like no other, emphasising social distancing will again need to be front of mind for parents and their children.
“This will not be a holiday,” said the PM. “There will not be trips interstate, there will not be those holiday normal type arrangements.
“There will not be congregating up at the trampoline venue or whatever it happens to be. That will not be happening.”
Indoor funerals must comply with 4 square meter social distancing rule.
For instance if a venue is 100 square meters, it can fit 25 people only.