At a press conference on Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a number of announcements in light of the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Effective today, the government has introduced a ban on non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people in indoor areas. In outdoor areas the ban remains for non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people. Mandatory 14-day self isolation for all travellers arriving from overseas is still in place, too. And these measures may last for up to six months.
The baseline that has been established by cabinet for “essential” gatherings includes transport, medical facilities, aged care, emergency services, places of custody, courts, supermarkets, stores, shopping centres and workplaces, including offices and construction sites.
“It is important that those who are healthy ... do what we can to limit the impact on those that are vulnerable,” Prime Minister Morrison said.
The government has also upgraded the current travel advice for all international travel to Level 4, and suggested that domestic travel may not be appropriate for some areas.
“That is the first time that has ever happened in Australia’s history,” he continued. “The travel advice to every Australian is, ‘Do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas’. We have not seen a lot of evidence of people contracting this virus on aircraft; the advice is that air travel, domestic air travel, is low risk. To that end, states and territories are working together with their health advisors, there are parts of this country that it would not be wise for people to visit.
"If there's a health reason that you'd want to isolate particular parts of the country, well, the powers exist for that to happen now ... it's not being on the plane that's the issue. It's where you might be coming from and going to."
Relief funds will be made available for the aviation sector. “They don’t necessarily change the world for those airlines, but they do provide support at a very difficult time,” he said.
The government also reiterated the need for social distancing, and urged Australians to stop panic-buying and stockpiling supplies.
“Stop hoarding,” the prime minister said. “I can’t be more blunt about it. Stop it.”
More decisions will be made at next national cabinet meeting on Friday.
Covid-19 (coronavirus) means we’re living in unprecedented and uncertain times. Victoria has declared a state of emergency, mass public gatherings are banned and minimal social contact is recommended. If you have concerns about visiting businesses or public spaces, or questions about self-isolation or coronavirus testing, check out the latest updates from the Department of Health and Human Services.
For a live list of events and gatherings that have been cancelled around Australia, check here.