18 March, 2020
PM announces schools to remain open but gatherings of more than 100 people are banned
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told all Australians "do not travel abroad" and has announced that non-essential indoor gatherings will be limited to 100 people and says schools will remain open.
The Prime Minister said the health advice was that schools should still remain open.
“The virus operates very differently amongst younger people,” Mr Morrison said.
“The health advice I’m happy to follow for my kids ... is the same health advice that I’m asking parents around the country to follow.”
“I’m happy for my kids to go to school.”
The PM said closing schools now would cause “severe disruptions” and tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, with the health workforce depleted by 30 per cent if parents had to stay at home with their children.
Australians are also being told not to travel overseas.
The Prime Minister said that the travel advice was now in place and would last indefinitely.
Domestic air travel has been deemed low risk by health experts and will continue without restrictions for now.
All non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are now banned.
Airports, public transport, medical facilities, emergency services, aged care, prisons, courts, parliaments, supermarkets, offices, schools, universities and construction sites are excluded from the crackdown.
The prime minister said the government expected the coronavirus crisis would last for at least six months.
“We are going to keep Australia running ... it won’t look like it normally does but it is very important we put in place measures that are scalable and sustainable,” Mr Morrison said.
“What we are doing, you’ve got to be able to keep doing.”
Aged care homes will ban visitors who have returned from overseas or have been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases.
Visitors with a fever will also be prevented from entering.
Aged care homes will only be allowed two visitors at the same time, which must only last for a limited time in designated areas, preferably in a resident’s room or outside.
Mr Morrison also urged Australians to“stop hoarding”.
“It’s not sensible, it’s not helpful,” he said.
“There is no reason for people to be hoarding supplies in fear of a lockdown.”
The Prime Minister said that the government was considering more economic measures to establish a safety net for Australians, particularly for small businesses and workers.
“We will announce them once they have been properly designed and can be properly implemented ... We are moving with great haste on this,” he said.
Mr Morrison said churches, mosques and synagogues would need to comply with the rules on mass gatherings.
He said it was up to sporting leagues to decide whether games went ahead without crowds.
“They need to make their own decisions about how they manage that,” Mr Morrison said.
“They must comply with all the health rules that have been established.”