Australians have been ordered to avoid travelling overseas and indoor gatherings of more than 100 people as the Federal Government announced tough new measures to deal with the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared a national human biosecurity emergency on Wednesday morning, stating that the states and territories would enforce tough new restrictions that could last for at least six months.
For the first time in Australia’s history, Mr Morrison upgraded the “travel ban” to Level Four that will involve the entire world.
The Prime Minister described the Level Four alert as a “ban” but people are being strongly discouraged from travelling.
“Do not go overseas – that is a very clear instruction,” Mr Morrison said.
“For those of you thinking about going overseas for the school holidays, don’t.”
Mr Morrison also placed an immediate ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people.
The restrictions will not apply to workplaces, public transport, shops and shopping malls.
Correctional facilities, youth justice centres and courts will also not be affected by the bans.
However, churches, mosques and other places of worship must follow the ban.
The limit remains at 500 for outdoor areas.
The new rules will place massive restrictions on the operation of pubs, cinemas and restaurants and could force many small businesses to close.
“Tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, if not more,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison also stated that schools would remain open despite growing concerns around the country.
“I am telling you that, as a father, I’m happy for my kids to go to school. There is only one reason your kids shouldn’t be going to school and that is if they are unwell,” he said.
“The health advice here, supported by all the premiers, all the chief ministers and my government is that schools should remain open.”
Tightened protocols were also announced for aged care facilities.
It included requiring all staff and visitors to residents to self-isolate for 14-days before entering premises.
Anyone with a fever or displaying symptoms of a respiratory infection will also be banned from aged care facilities.
It will extend to anyone who has not been vaccinated against the influenza from May 1.
Anzac Day events and ceremonies would also be cancelled.
Meanwhile, working restrictions on 20,000 student nurses had been lifted so they could join the response to the pandemic.
Mr Morrison said that Australians should not be alarmed that a human biosecurity emergency had been declared.
The Governor-General made the declaration after the national security committee met yesterday before the national cabinet and the act was triggered this morning.
Mr Morrison said the action recognised the seriousness of the situation but Australia was not shutting down society.
Meanwhile, he criticised people had stripped supermarket shelves bare and were stockpiling items in their home
“Stop hoarding. I can’t be more blunt about it,” he said.
“It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis.
He said people did not need to stockpile supplies in case of a shutdown.
“We are going to keep Australia running. We are going to keep Australia functioning,” he said.