PM announces stricter social gathering rules deemed ‘heartbreaking’

Strict new rules announced, but even harsher measures on the cards.

family bbq

Australians woke this morning to strict new regulations that effectively prevent them from attending weddings, funerals and family barbecues – among other rules that will come into effect at midnight Wednesday.

Workers have been urged to do so from home. Children’s parties and dinner parties are to be cancelled.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says even visits with family "should be kept to a minimum and with very small numbers of guests".

"We don't want to be overly specific about that; we want Australians to exercise their common sense," he said.

"Going out for the basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members provided it's a small group – that's fine.

"Barbecues of lots of friends or even extended family coming together to celebrate one-year-old birthday parties and all these sorts of things – we can't do those things now.

"If you're gathering together in a group, say 10 people, outside together in a group, that's not okay."

Under the new rules, weddings can continue but can only be attended by five people – the couple, a celebrant and two witnesses. Funerals can also only have a maximum of 10 mourners.

The PM said that the states were considering making it a criminal offence to host a house party.

"You should only go outside your home to go to those essential things I talked about, not to go and congregate in groups," he said.

"If we do all these things then we are going to be able to put greater pressure on slowing the rate of the spread of this virus."

Australians will also be banned from travelling overseas, with the "do not travel" warning issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade turning into a total ban as of Wednesday.

From midnight Wednesday, a slew of activities and businesses will no longer be allowed to continue, including:

  • community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres
  • amusement parks and arcades
  • indoor and outdoor play centres
  • public swimming pools
  • galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres
  • auction houses
  • real estate auctions and open house inspections
  • in-store beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours, spa and massage parlours (excluding allied-health-related services)
  • food courts within shopping centres will only be able to sell takeaway, but shopping centres themselves will remain open.

Hairdressers and barber shops can stay open, but a customer must not be on the premises longer than 30 minutes. Personal training sessions and boot camps are limited to 10 people. And operation of outdoor and indoor food markets will be addressed by the states and territories.

The new laws come as the number of coronavirus cases in Australia doubled in the past three days. 

A total lockdown of all non-essential services is being considered as of Sunday, says Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.

"But the idea that you can put measures in place for four weeks and suddenly stop them and the virus will be gone is not credible," he said. 

"So, we are very keen to put as restrictive measures in place without completely destroying life as we know it. 

"Make no mistake, if there is widespread community transmission, we may have to introduce some harder measures.”

Mr Morrison, who acknowledged the new rules "will be very difficult" said the new measures reflected the gravity of the issue faced by Australians to limit the spread of COVID-19 and its potential to wreak havoc on the health system. 

"This is not an easy decision," he said. 

"Some of the events that have been some of the major transmitting events, it has been exactly these types of events, particularly weddings.

"And that is why, regretfully, we have to be able to put these arrangements in place."

Mr Morrison also said every worker in Australia would be considered "essential".

"Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that are taking place is essential," he said.

"It can be essential in a service whether it's a nurse or a doctor or a schoolteacher, or a public servant who is working tonight to ensure that we can get even greater capacity in our Centrelink offices, working until eight o'clock under the new arrangement in the call centres, these are all essential jobs.

"People stacking shelves, that is essential. People earning money in their family when another member of their family may have lost their job and can no longer earn, that's an essential job. Jobs are essential."

He also reiterated that relief would be provided to people who may not be able to pay their rent or if power bills could not be paid on time.

Mr Morrison said 2020 would be the "toughest year" of many people's lives and one of the most "heart-breaking events" in the nation's history.

"We are not unconscious of the real impact these measures are having on the lives of daily Australians so we will continue to do everything we can," he said.

"We know it is a massive change to our lives but if we do it, and we do it consistently, and we do it patiently and understandingly, then we will get through this," he said.

What do you think of the new changes?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    day dreamer
    25th Mar 2020
    10:01am
    These rules should be announced a lot earlier! This is to ensure everyone's safety, so that there are less funerals.
    Retiring Well
    25th Mar 2020
    10:28am
    How many do you expect to die?
    Horace Cope
    25th Mar 2020
    10:52am
    Another armchair expert?
    Retiring Well
    25th Mar 2020
    10:18am
    So I am banned from my trip to the UK in May now. Utter madness.
    tango18
    25th Mar 2020
    10:47am
    The UK may well still be in lock-down, so they won't let you in anyway. Where is the madness? Most of the infections have come from people travelling from country to country.

    Your whinge is pretty selfish when people are dying from this disease, and all you have to do is stay home. Hope none of you or your loved ones get a serious dose as they might well die.
    Nanna75
    25th Mar 2020
    10:59am
    My brother was due here on Friday from the UK. . Looking forward to it for over a year. We're both in our 70s and he's had to cancel. Fingers crossed for 2021.
    veepee
    25th Mar 2020
    2:23pm
    Seriously? Have you seen the state the UK is in? The NHS will be overwhelmed very shortly, - you wouldn't even be allowed outside. And the numbers of infected there are probably many more than reported because they haven't been testing as ardently as has been the case in Australia. Be grateful for where you are. And if you aren't convinced and want to scare the daylights out of yourself get onto the John Hopkins Coronavirus site and keep an eye on the progress of the disease.
    Elizzy
    25th Mar 2020
    5:08pm
    Australians really don't get it. Bergamo, Italy holds a burial or cremation every 30 minutes - no family present. We voluntarily quarantined ourselves (in France) starting one month ago. We shall continue like that until a vaccine is available. That is the new lifestyle. Meanwhile save your pity for India, Africa and South America.
    Chooky
    25th Mar 2020
    10:35am
    Just do it!
    Stay home.
    JB
    25th Mar 2020
    3:05pm
    It’s not rocket science !
    The Thinker
    25th Mar 2020
    11:26am
    We need to be as hard on cruise ships as boat people. There are contaminated people spreading the virus on purpose too.
    The best thing to do is stay home.

    Our real heroes are supermarket workers, delivery drivers, and hospital cleaners. All risking their lives for us and rewarded with abuse and low pays.

    Coronavirus is a lesson for everyone to change their values. It's giving mother nature are chance to heal.
    Dallas1955
    25th Mar 2020
    11:53am
    My grandson's 5th birthday was on Monday. Most people didn't attend. I would rather err on the side of caution. I would have liked these restrictions to come in sooner.
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    12:29pm
    Why on earth anyone would want to travel to the other side of the world in these difficult times beggars belief,
    KB
    25th Mar 2020
    12:39pm
    Many people have cancelled insterstae and overseas trips. The government is just erring on side of caution when it come to gatherings, The less people who are affected the better The government adheres to advice from medical experts.This is a dreadful virus and must be nipped in the bud. Jus heard that only essential elective surgery will take place now to free up resources in public and private hospitals to help the medical staff deal coronavirus patients. Sensible precautions
    KB
    25th Mar 2020
    12:39pm
    Many people have cancelled insterstae and overseas trips. The government is just erring on side of caution when it come to gatherings, The less people who are affected the better The government adheres to advice from medical experts.This is a dreadful virus and must be nipped in the bud. Jus heard that only essential elective surgery will take place now to free up resources in public and private hospitals to help the medical staff deal coronavirus patients. Sensible precautions
    Dorothy
    25th Mar 2020
    12:49pm
    What a ridiculous and irresponsible headline!
    It is “heartbreaking” when people die from this virus due to unnecessary exposure. Weddings can be postponed. Funeral services can be posted on Facebook for everyone to see. People need to get their priorities right. This is literally a life and death situation so missing a family barbecue can hardly be described as “heartbreaking”. Poor journalism in this current public health crisis.
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    1:08pm
    Send your message to the PM, he is the one who said it is" Heartbreaking "
    almost a grey hair
    25th Mar 2020
    1:15pm
    Has anyone else noticed that we are the only country in the world where individual masks are not being used as a major precaution. Slo Mo claimed masks are of no use, then why is every other country using them ? Why ,in china were they chaining people together who were caught in the streets without one, yet here they are telling us they are of no use ??
    Could it be that the government missed the boat and didn't buy enough and there simply aren't any
    The Thinker
    25th Mar 2020
    3:04pm
    When I arrived to have the 65+ flu injection at the doctor's surgery the receptionists told me to wear a face mask.

    I told her that I haven't got one on me because no one advised me about it when I made the appointment. I advised them to inform everyone about the mask policy before they arrive.

    They told me to grab a tissue from the desk and put it across my face.

    I was seated amongst the other tissue wearing patients in the waiting room. There was a gentleman seated in front of me coughing and spluttering everywhere and blowing his nose.

    None of the staff offered to move him into another room. Instead, he was left there to contaminate.
    KSS
    25th Mar 2020
    6:53pm
    The masks you commonly see people wearing are of very little use if you are not sick. They are poorly fitting, do not filter the air and would not stop you inhaling the virus. Also any usefulness is gone after about 20 minutes.

    However, if you are actually sick, wearing these masks may help protect others from you but again, they are used for far too long and are so poorly fitting that the true effect is minimal.
    almost a grey hair
    25th Mar 2020
    7:04pm
    KSS isn't that half the problem, do we try to protect others or just worry about ourselves, in true Australian fashion.
    The fact is where are they , why hasn't this government got their arse into gear like the rest of the world.
    Why are we fast becoming a third world country, re-active rather than pro -active
    If the rest of the world have them why is this government such poor managers of all they rule
    Incognito
    25th Mar 2020
    1:18pm
    Does not effect me, I wasn't planning on any of these activities anyway, but gets me why they let the cruise ship doc, watched Foreign Correspondence last night and they said the Italy problem starting from two visitors from Wuhan.
    Yes could have been nipped in the bud a lot early and we would not have all these restrictions and everyone losing their jobs.
    We only have 8 people who have died, 3 from an aged care 2 of which was over 90, eveyone else over 70. Are we even sure these aged care people were ready to die anyway and did not die of coronavirus.
    Too many people are living in fear of dying which is the quickest way to lower your immunity.
    In the meantime we have many workers still going to work, and many essential services people still going about their business, and politicians still moving around too. Sure they are all trying to keep everything operating but it seems ridiculous some of these new rules.
    Incognito
    25th Mar 2020
    1:20pm
    You can still go for a massage but not get a tattoo. You can still go out and pick up a takeaway but not eat at a table, the virus is supposed to spread on plastic and cardboard too, so shouldn't it be that all take away be stopped?
    Up front lady
    25th Mar 2020
    1:52pm
    I think the term "self isolation " should be changed to quarantine.
    So many just don't get it.
    Already this morning 2 people have come into our shop saying that they have come to get things to do while they complete their self isolation.
    When I said " so what are you out in public for" they say " I am being careful but I need to get these things ".
    Rest assured, I set them straight. Isolation means just that and it includes everyone in the household.
    veepee
    25th Mar 2020
    2:27pm
    The correct term is actually 'self quarantine'. I would have refused to serve them and threatened to report them.
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    3:26pm
    We are still allowed to go to the shops, go for a walk, even with 1 or 2 family members unless we have had contact with known COVD-19 cases, it is only then we have to self isolate, I have just been listening to the PM and that is what he has said. If these people are in Vic the police will be checking on them and hopefully they will in NSW too. Other people can do the shopping for people self isolating and drop it at their door.
    80 plus
    25th Mar 2020
    2:12pm
    why only 5 at a wedding? couple, a celebrant and two witnesses, this may suit the godless but at a wedding I would expect a priest, the couple and the couples parents, best man (witness) and a brides maid a total of nine , one less than the number permitted at a funeral!! more policy making on the run.
    Incognito
    25th Mar 2020
    2:34pm
    It is almost laughable some of these rules. If everyone wore respiratory masks and gloves like they are doing overseas surely they could still attend.
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    3:32pm
    Masks are useles unless you get the full face ones that cover you eyes too, the Health Minister said use masks only if you are looking after sick people at home. If you are well and not looking after a COV D-19 patient the answer is probably no, this latest ifnfo on Google.
    KSS
    25th Mar 2020
    7:00pm
    80+ the reason is that to be legally married you need an approved celebrant (or priest, or Rabbi, or I am etc) and two witnesses. Therefore the minimum number at an official legally binding wedding is 5 people. All the rest you might expect to see are simply guests and not legally required.

    I suppose those wanting to get married need to decide whether they want a wedding, or do they want a marriage. The answer will help decide whether to go ahead or postpone.
    Chris B T
    25th Mar 2020
    2:32pm
    Not one Mention on Back Packer Hostels.
    These are a very Communal Environment, with people travelling about care free.
    Hard to practice Social Distancing in very cramp Dormitory Rooms and Shared Bath Rooms.
    Should have the same Rules as anywhere else and stay/limit travel or go back home.
    They are an exploited and also they exploit there visa Requirements.
    Safer for to go home.
    There should be more than Enough People to Work on Farms, Packing Sheds what ever shortage of workers from "Back Packers" leaving or restricted movements.
    Just a possible option for work.
    The Thinker
    25th Mar 2020
    3:06pm
    All backpackers should be sent packing home immediately instead of letting them overstay their visas.
    newretiree
    25th Mar 2020
    2:36pm
    I would like to comment on the journalism in this article, in this case Leon the editor. My perception, Leon is that you don’t consider yourself, and by implication, YLC, Australian. If you are Australian then this pandemic’s consequences include you too. Your first sentence begins with ‘Australians’ which I took as you reporting this event as a foreign journalist to other countries in the world. As an Aussie, perhaps the sentence should have begun with ‘This morning, we Australians awoke to new regulations which effectively prevent us from....’. We are all affected by C-19 and our salvation lies in living/working as a team, in accordance with the advice and directions of the leaders we elected to manage the country’s future, who are in turn guided by experts. Why don’t you talk as part of the Aus team by using inclusive terms, instead of portraying yourself in judgement of the new rules, immune from the virus and sacrosanct?
    flowerpot
    25th Mar 2020
    3:15pm
    My son arrived from Berlin yesterday and is now in self-isolation in a b and b in Sydney. No one took his temperature at the airport and all passengers just walked into the country. The 'precaution' was to give everyone a flyer with instructions, which one man who'd got on in Doha threw in the bin saying, 'What rubbish!" He'd been sitting behind my son and had been coughing all the way. At no point did anyone stop him or draw him aside. My son felt he'd come back from the future (Berlin) where strict measures are now in place. He says Aussies seem to have no idea what's coming our way. We lived in Singapore during SARS and Changi airport was equipped with machines that took your temperature on arrival. Forget groups of anything more than two. Wash your hands and stay indoors!
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    3:37pm
    Flowerpot, you should ring Current Affair and Sky News and alert them to the fact that this aircraft arrived and passengers were not being tested, this is reprehensible, just like what happened on the Ruby Princess.
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    3:50pm
    Flowerpot have you thought about getting in touch with Border Force?, one of their officers was on TV earlier today talking about the Ruby Princess debacle and if this sort of thing is also happening at the Airports then they, as well as the Health Minister, need to be told to stop the further spread of this disease all over the country.
    KSS
    25th Mar 2020
    7:07pm
    Flowerpot I suggest you son contacts the police (NSW, Vic) who now have powers to check those in self isolation are complying and can fine or even arrest them if they are not doing the right thing.

    However, this person's behaviour at the airport may not be the same once home. Either way the police can check.
    Misty
    28th Mar 2020
    1:08pm
    Finally State and Federal Govts have seen the light and quarantining people arriving at airports, weeks too late, I thought all overseas travel was stopped but the Premier of NSW said today that thousands could be coming back to Australia each week from now on.
    Mrsd
    25th Mar 2020
    3:18pm
    Can anyone tell me why horse racing hasn't been suspended.
    KSS
    25th Mar 2020
    7:09pm
    There are no spectators, horses don't get it and the handlers and jockies can maintain social distance.

    However, I suspect it will go the way of other sports.
    Mrsd
    25th Mar 2020
    3:18pm
    Can anyone tell me why horse racing hasn't been suspended.
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    3:19pm
    retiring well -- would it be utter madness if you went then got the virus and ended up killing not only yourself but your loved ones also?????
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    3:19pm
    retiring well -- would it be utter madness if you went then got the virus and ended up killing not only yourself but your loved ones also?????
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    3:19pm
    retiring well -- would it be utter madness if you went then got the virus and ended up killing not only yourself but your loved ones also?????
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    3:19pm
    retiring well -- would it be utter madness if you went then got the virus and ended up killing not only yourself but your loved ones also?????
    FrankC
    25th Mar 2020
    3:19pm
    retiring well -- would it be utter madness if you went then got the virus and ended up killing not only yourself but your loved ones also?????
    flowerpot
    25th Mar 2020
    3:39pm
    Misty -there have been loads of letters to the SMH pointing this out for a week now. It's well-known but nothing happens. However, you're right and I'll ask my son to do it.
    Misty
    25th Mar 2020
    3:52pm
    Thanks for your reply Flowerpot, I hope someone will listen to your son and act on his information.
    Caz
    25th Mar 2020
    4:16pm
    I see calls for rent relief, perhaps power and energy bills, mortgage relief BUT the health funds are still going ahead with the scheduled increase on April 1. Surely this will drive even more people to leave the health funds. The newly unemployed will be watching every penny.
    Surely, given what the world is going through this increase could be deferred?
    Incognito
    26th Mar 2020
    1:27am
    https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/fiasco-making-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-rel

    Can we trust anyone and even the data?
    Boomah52
    26th Mar 2020
    12:51pm
    US Flu season 2018... death toll 80,000. Anyone ever hear about this? This current virus could be germ warfare? Unless they have these high level biological laboratories just for window dressing... and what do you know, by sheer coincidence, one is 30km from outbreak lol. If it is a form of warfare, shut down everything for too long and you will fulfill its aims. One, maybe two in every hundred may die, but the alternative may be WW3.
    Incognito
    26th Mar 2020
    2:24pm
    Here are some articles for you Boomah52, I have my doubts and questions too, although I agree this current virus is more contagious it is less contagious than the measles by far:

    https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/03/no_author/coronavirus-vaccines-and-the-gates-foundation/

    https://www.drbrownstein.com/coronavirus-xii:/

    https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/fiasco-making-coronavirus-pandemic-takes-hold-we-are-making-decisions-without-rel

    I am thinking it is a money making scheme, do depopulate and to bring the world economy to the brink of collapse, world war 3 in disguise.
    Misty
    26th Mar 2020
    10:35pm
    False and true questions answered on Chanel 7 tonight said they still don't know if the Corona Virus is more deadly then the flu but they think it will be, 1 in 1.000 people die from the flu but the thinking is, on evidence so far, that it will be between 10 to 20 people per 1,000 that will die from the CVD-19 Virus.
    Incognito
    27th Mar 2020
    12:18am
    Yes I saw that Misty, but it is all guess work at this stage because they said they do not have the information to call it on Covid 19.
    Thai Traveller
    28th Mar 2020
    11:24am
    Gold Coast bus is the only way I can get to supermarkets, pharmacists, doctor. If these services stop, what do we pensioners do, especially those of us who do not have a car?
    Misty
    28th Mar 2020
    1:03pm
    Have to rely on family and friends or maybe volunteers if you do not have anyone that can help, I don't really know and what happens to people who do not have a Credit Card and stores refuse to take cash as some are doing?.


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