It’s become abundantly clear over the past few days (cough, #BondiGate, cough) that Australia has not taken the warnings to follow social-distancing practices seriously. And as a result, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that more stringent restrictions and closures will be implemented across Australia in an attempt to force people to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
As news.com.au reports, the PM gave a statement on Sunday evening, revealing that this first stage of shutdowns will begin today, Monday 23rd March at 12pm.
During Sunday’s press conference, Mr Morrison did not mince words about the reason for these new closures:
“We don’t now have any confidence that people would refrain from gathering in those ways, in those pubs, clubs and nightclubs,” he said.
“We have no confidence that will be followed. So, unfortunately, because guidelines can’t be followed, then for public health reasons we now need to take further action which shuts those gatherings down.”
If you’re wondering what that means, allow us to offer a little more detail.
All bars, theatres, cinemas, casinos and nightclubs will close. Yes, that includes pubs. Hotels (in the context of accommodation, only) are allowed to remain open but must adopt more extensive hygiene practices.
Gyms and indoor sporting venues are also set to shut down due to coronavirus fears.
Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals will need to adhere to strict social distancing limits (one person per four square metres).
Dining in restaurants or cafes is also no longer going to be an option. Mr Morrison pointed out, however, that home-delivery and takeaway options will remain available for food and alcohol venues.
Just be sure to follow social-distancing protocol if you’re heading out to pick up a coffee.
“Home deliveries, takeaway, all of these things will continue, as I know many of these catering businesses are already adjusting their business models in anticipation of things that they believed would potentially take place,” Mr Morrison said.
Australians were also updated on conditions for school-aged children over the weekend. For the moment, it’s been decided that schools will remain open. However, “Schools will be encouraged to provide access to online and distance learning” for those who choose not to send their children in.
Mr Morrison’s statement revealed:
“State Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed that schools will remain open through to the end of the current school terms to support students whose parents choose to send their children to school. Victoria’s school break will commence on Tuesday, 24th March 2020.
“All Leaders have committed to re-open schools at the end of the school break, subject to the advice of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee.”
This first round of restrictions is estimated to last up to six months.
The PM mentioned several times that stage two of shutdowns and closures is in the works, should Australia continue to ignore safety advice and put fellow locals at risk.
His update comes after NSW was forced to close beaches in response to the inconsiderate behaviour of the hordes of people who flocked to the water despite very clear directions to avoid gatherings of over 500 people outdoors.
ABC News shares that several new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among backpackers in Bondi.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now over 1,300 cases in Australia.
In case it hasn’t been made clear enough already, let me put it plainly: stay at home.
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