In a press conference this morning, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Government’s updated recommendations and advice to the nation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the key points:
The travel ban on Australians has been upgraded to Level 4 for the first time in Australia’s history. This ban means Australians cannot travel overseas.
Domestic air travel is still considered low risk. However, the Prime Minister has advised there are parts of this country it would not be wise for people to visit, including remote regions and Indigenous communities. According to the Government, it’s not so much about travelling on planes and more about where you are travelling to.
Further information regarding this will be provided in the coming days.
Ban On Non-Essential Gatherings Over 100
All non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people in indoor areas have been banned, effective immediately.
This ban does not apply to airports, public transportation and public transportation facilities (e.g. train stations), medical and health facilities, disability and aged care facilities, youth justice centres, correctional facilities, parliaments, grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, and mining sites (further list to come).
Regarding outdoor areas, the limit of 500 people per gathering still applies.
Schools Will Remain Open
At this stage, schools will remain open, with Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy stating that it is strongly believed that it is in the best interest of both students and the nation that schools should remain open at this time.
The Prime Minister commented that the virus operates very differently amongst younger people and presents a different health challenge, and stated, “as a father, I am happy for my kids to go to school.”
Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy stressed that COVID-19 is different to influenza and other respiratory diseases, which can be severe in children.
If there is a large outbreak in a specific area, there may be occasions in which local school closures might be necessary but across the community, schools will remain open.
Measures should be taken to reduce transmissions in schools. No sick child should go to school. No sick teacher should go to school. No large gatherings or assemblies should be happening. Good hand hygiene should be practiced.
Biosecurity State Of Emergency Declared
The Governor-General has declared a human biosecurity emergency under the Biosecurity Act.
The Act details the management of diseases and pests that may cause harm to human, animal or plant health or the environment.
More information to come.
Stop Hoarding Supplies
According to Prime Minster Scott Morrison, “it must stop.”
The Prime Minister was vocal in stating that Australians should stop bulk purchasing supplies, saying it is “disappointing” and “un-Australian.”
“There is no reason for people to be hoarding supplies in fear of a lockdown.”
‘We need to keep Australia working,” says the Prime Minister.
From 1 April, support will be given to the hard-hit aviation sector.
More information to come.
Restrictions Lifted On Students Nurses
Restrictions will be lifted on student nurses in Australia, so that 20,000 student nurses will be available to work.
The following visitors and staff should not attend aged care facilities:
- Those with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
- Those returning from overseas in the last 14 days.
- Those who have had contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.
- Those who haven’t been vaccinated for influenza after the 1 May.
Visits to aged care facilities will be limited to two people at a time, with shorter visits advised. Visits must be conduced in a resident’s room, outdoors or in an area specified, not in a common space.
There will be no social gatherings or activities, and schools groups will not be able to visit.
Children under sixteen are advised against visiting, given a lesser understanding of hygiene. This is to protect residents. For cases of end of life, it is of course understood that people will want to see relatives. Aged care facilities can put measures and rules in place to facilitate this whilst accommodating social distancing.
This has largely already been determined by RSLs around the country but activities should be cancelled.
An Anzac Day service will be broadcast live from the War Memorial in Canberra.
From The Chief Medical Officer
- 80,000 tests have now been administered in Australia, with approximately 454 cases of COVID-19 confirmed.
- The majority of new cases in Australia are imported cases or a result of direct contact with imported cases.
- Social distancing is really important. Keep away from each other. Hand hygiene is essential. Wash your hands as much as possible and use hand sanitiser. No more handshakes. No more hugging (except amongst family).
- We need to be in this for the long haul as it might be six months or more. These new methods of interacting must be practiced.
- A short term 2-4 week shutdown of society is not recommended by any of our experts. It doesn’t achieve anything.
More information to come.
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