Update: the Australian government on Tuesday March 24 announced stricter measures around weddings and funerals, and ordered beauty salons, tanning salons, nail salons and more "non-essential" businesses to close. More here."
Confused by the constantly evolving details around which venues are still open and which ones aren't? Check out our guide to Which Businesses Are Considered Essential and Non-Essential.
Late Sunday evening the Australian government announced that “non-essential” businesses and services across the country would be forced to shut today, from noon, as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.
The list of non-essential venues includes:
• Pubs, registered and licensed clubs, excluding bottle shops attached to these venues
• Hotels, except for rooms and accommodation areas
• Gyms and indoor sporting venues
• Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and nightclubs
• Restaurants and cafes, which are now restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
• Places of worship, which may only be used for weddings and funerals, provided they stick to the previous rule of one person per four square metres in enclosed spaces
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least six months.
The announcement does not provide clarity on whether butchers and greengrocers are considered essential, however, these businesses have continued to operate around the country under the assumption they are, having not been named in the non-essential list. Butchers and grocers have received no direct communication from the government relating to their status outside of media releases, according to three with which Broadsheet spoke.
The Australian Meat Industry Council has emailed members to let them know that, “under the released Stage 1 restrictions, the supply chain is to continue operating, from processing plants through to retail butchers.”
Similarly, while gyms are on the non-essential list, it appears physiotherapists operating out of such venues remain open for business. Keiser in Melbourne's Fitzroy, for example, remains open for physiotherapy sessions and clinical one-on-one workouts with exercise physiologists.
Confirmed essential services that will remain open include:
• Bottle shops, as mentioned above
• Petrol stations
• Convenience stores
• Home delivery services
“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,” Morrison said.
The news came after the national cabinet – the PM, state and territory premiers and chief ministers – met on Sunday evening, 22 March, to discuss further measures to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Already the federal government had banned gatherings of 500-plus people outside, gatherings of 100 inside, and closed Australia's borders.
Individual state governments have also put in place other measures, including the closure of borders in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia; the closure of beaches, including Bondi Beach, throughout Sydney; and the closure, prior to Morrison's nationwide policy, of non-essential services in Victoria and New South Wales.
State and territory leaders agreed at the time of last night's meeting that children should go to school today, but since then the situation has changed in Victoria, NSW and the ACT. In a press conference NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian asked parents to keep their children home from school – though schools would technically remain open – as NSW recorded an increase of 136 novel coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, bringing the state’s total count to 669. All Victorian schools will be shut from tomorrow, with school holidays being brought forward from Friday. ACT schools will go online from Tuesday.