Australians have been told that three’s a crowd under strict new lockdown laws designed to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Going out in public with more than one other person could, if the states and territories decide, be an enforceable offence. Only families and households would be excepted.
People disregarding social distancing, isolation or quarantine orders prior to the announcement of the new rules can receive fines of $1000 or more in most states.
It is up to the states and territories to decide if the new rules would be enforceable to the same degree.
And older Australians, specifically those aged over 70 and Australians with existing health conditions or comorbidities, have been told to stay at home.
This “strong advice” for self-isolation has been given to those over 70, those over 60 who have existing health conditions or comorbidities, and indigenous Australians over 50 who have existing health conditions or comorbidities.
These groups have also been ordered to limit contact with others as much as possible when they do go outside.
“There is strong advice – this is not a compulsion, this is strong advice – that people aged 70 and over should stay at home and self-isolate for their own protection to the maximum extent practicable,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“This does not mean that they cannot go outside. They can go outside and be accompanied by a support person for the purposes of getting some fresh air, some recreation. But they should limit contact with others as much as possible. These arrangements should also apply to those with chronic illness over 60 and Indigenous persons over the age of 50.”
All public spaces including parks, playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms will also be closed from midday on Monday.
The PM said that while parents were allowed to take their kids outdoors for exercise, they should not meet up in groups or use the time to catch up with friends or family.
“The strong advice is don’t gather together in groups. That’s the simple way of putting it. Just don’t do it. It’s not helpful,” he said.
“It is not a time for catching up with friends or bumping into people and having a long conversation and maybe drawing a few other friends across to catch up on how it all is going.
“No, you can’t do that any more. That is what we have to stop doing.
“It actually creates the risk. And when you’re going out for shopping, you should be going for just stuff you need and do it and get home. It’s not a time for browsing.
“You must stay at home except for the following reasons: (A) shopping for what you need, food and other essential supplies that enable you to remain at home and to do that shopping as infrequently as possible; (B) for medical care or compassionate needs; (C) to exercise in compliance with the public gathering rules that I’ve already outlined, and (D) for work and education if you cannot work or learn remotely.
“What we’ve said today is you should be only going out to shop for things that you actually need, and you should be doing it on an irregular basis.
“I’ll give you an example. Our kids are at home now, as are most kids, and Jenny went out yesterday and bought them a whole bunch of jigsaw puzzles. I can assure you over the next few months, we’re going to consider those jigsaw puzzles absolutely essential.
“It’s important that parents and families and households can get the things that they need to completely change the way they’re going to live for the next six months at least. And so what we’ve done is sought to be practical about these issues.
“I mean, people are buying sporting equipment at the moment, gym mats and things like that so they can exercise at home. These are things they’re going to need.”
Chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy reinforced the PM’s advice for all Australians to stay at home.
“We have to change the way we, as people, interact with each other. It is very simple. We need to all stay home unless we are going out to shop, to do personal exercise, to go to medical appointments or to go to work or study if you can’t work from home,” he said.
“So anyone who doesn’t need to be out of their home should be in the home. This is radical. The vast majority of Australians have done the right thing in the last week.
“We have seen huge evidence of that, but we have also seen some very silly behaviour of people who haven’t complied with that, particularly outdoors and sometimes indoors.
“And that’s why we feel that it is really important that every Australian does the right thing because for these interventions to take effect, the science shows that you need more than 90 per cent of the population to be doing it all of the time.
“So please continue to do what you are doing.”
Along with the lockdown measures, the PM also announced a $1.1 billion package to help people with mental health issues, domestic violence prevention and other health measures; and a WhatsApp group and a coronavirus app has been set up to keep the public updated.
As of late last week, Australian Defence Force personnel have been called on to assist state and territory authorities enforce quarantine compliance.
Testing has also been extended to include anyone with a fever or acute respiratory infection who works in healthcare or aged care, or who lives in areas with an elevated risk of community transmission or plausibly linked cases.
All patients will be able to access Medicare-funded online consultations from next week.
“This much-expanded telehealth ‘Medicare at home’ measure keeps both patients and providers safe in terms of social distancing, but also safeguards and ensures care for those non-coronavirus patients with complex chronic conditions so they can continue to be cared for safely,” said Consumers Health Forum of Australia chief Leanne Wells.
“This development highlights how much we can better maximise available capabilities, even the telephone, to improve our campaign against coronavirus. Now we need to see governments and private hospitals working together to ensure their huge capabilities can be recruited in the fight against the virus.”
- public transport
- some schools
- petrol stations
- postal and freight services
- bottle shops
- retail shops
- restaurants restricted to take-away/delivery in most states.
- schools in Victoria and ACT
- indoor sports venues
- places of worship
- theme parks, amusement parks and arcades
- auction houses
- shopping centre food courts
- beauty therapy/tanning/waxing/nail salons
- tattoo parlours
- youth centres
- community halls
- RSL clubs
- swimming pools
- indoor and outdoor play centres
- social sports that involve large groups
- outdoor and indoor markets
- outdoor playgrounds
- skate parks.
Are you staying inside? How seriously are you taking the governments’ lockdown measures? What do you think of those who aren’t taking them seriously?
If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.