Australians banned from travelling overseas in latest coronavirus crackdown

Henrietta Brewer
March 26, 2020

Scott Morrison said it had "been a very hard decision" to prevent large weddings and funerals from taking place.

Weddings may still continue, but only with a couple, a celebrant and their witnesses, as large gatherings are no longer allowed. However, boot camps and personal training can continue if limited to ten people and with appropriate social distancing measures.

Social-distancing practices include a 1.5m distance between people, with no hugging or touching allowed.

Food markets will remain open, at the discretion of state governments, as will shopping centres, however only retail premises not included on the list of restrictions will remain open.

NSW on Wednesday announced tough action to crack down on "reckless social gatherings".

Nearly all elective surgery in Australia, excluding urgent cases, will be suspended indefinitely to ease pressure on hospitals preparing for an influx of COVID-19 patients. "So that means barbecues of lots of friends, or even family, extended family, coming together to celebrate one-year-old birthday parties and those sorts of things, we can't do those things now". But we also need to recognise that in some places, states and territories are in different situations to other parts of the country.' He instanced the Northern Territory, with its remote communities.

Most overseas travel will be banned and many public spaces will be shut.

"These are not things we can do now", the Prime Minister declared on Tuesday night when he told the country the lockdown will apply to overseas travel, weddings, funerals, and much more from midnight Wednesday. "This will turn into a ban", he said.

Morrison said the change was introduced because "there are people defying that advice and looking to go overseas on leisure travel".

There will be exceptions for essential travel, including for overseas employment, aid work and on compassionate grounds.

"The direction is being worked on overnight, a soon as that direction is signed off by the health minister, it will come into force then and that will happen tomorrow".

Morrison said the commission was "about mobilising a whole-of-society and whole-of-economy effort".

"Australians who have lost hours, lost work, businesses that have been forced to close businesses, these are heart-breaking events in our nation's history and story". "We don't want to be overly specific about that, we want Australians to exercise their common sense". Schools are set to reconvene after the school break with a mixture of "distance learning", with parents able to choose whether to keep their child at home.

"The position of the national cabinet is that schools should remain open and they can provide distance learning for those parents that wish their children to remain at home", he said.

PM to meet with teachers and other sector representatives about keeping schools open and protecting staff.

Australia's Chief Health Officer, Brendan Murphy, says he is very concerned by the rapid rise in COVID-19 diagnoses.

The premier stopped short of enforcing a total lockdown similar to those seen in Britain and Italy, but said all Australians "should only go outside to do to those essential things" such as buying groceries or seeking medical attention.

"These measures are really draconian ..."

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