Published: Thu, March 26, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Australia bans all overseas travel, limits social gatherings amid COVID-19 pandemic

Australia bans all overseas travel, limits social gatherings amid COVID-19 pandemic

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the decision would apply to public and private hospitals from midnight on Wednesday.

"Practising good hygiene and keeping a healthy physical distance between individuals is our most powerful weapon in fighting this virus and saving lives".

"We are very concerned that Australia, with 1,700 cases but thankfully few deaths, is now in a similar situation to the UK's of 14 March, when they had 1,100 cases and 21 deaths".

Gizmodo Australia has reached out to the Prime Minister's office for clarification around whether there are any rule changes around Australians coming back into the country.

Morrison admitted what he has been reluctant to say before - that there are differences in the national cabinet. It was meant to provide a unified position on a national crisis. "That will turn into a ban". You should not be having friends over for a dinner party.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced stricter measures for all Australians in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in a press conference on Tuesday evening, where he was joined by chief medical officer Brendan Murphy.

From today "stage one" restrictions will be introduced and will be reviewed on a monthly basis. There is also a ban on nearly all non-Australians from entering the country at the present time.

Personal training and boot camps will also be allowed to continue but with a maximum of 10 people.

Weddings will still be allowed to be conducted but will be restricted to just the couple, the celebrant and witnesses. But the lockdown part is what we need to hear.

As of 3:00 p.m. local time Wednesday, there are 2,423 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, according to the country's Health Department.

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Online, Australians noted their confusion at shutting down pubs and clubs but leaving shopping centres and supermarkets open, calling for the Prime Minister to "shut Australia down" to stop the pandemic taking hold.

Cafes and restaurants will be shuttered too as Australia seeks to limit the virus spread.

His announcement late on Sunday followed a meeting of the national cabinet after Victoria, the ACT and NSW indicated they were prepared to go it alone on moves to lock down non-essential services in their states.

Morrison urged Australians to stay home except for essential trips and to keep social gatherings at home to a very small number of guests.

An aged care centre has signs warning people not to enter.

On social distancing, he says people have been disregarding the advice. Picture: James D. Morgan/Getty Images.

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.

'We can not have people queueing for intensive care beds.

"It strikes me on those numbers that there are people defying that advice and still looking to go overseas on leisure travel", he said.

"But importantly, for those parents who have jobs, who need to send their children to school for their learning, because they can't stay at home with them, because they need to be at work, these are nurses, they're doctors, they're people who are working at Centrelink, people doing very important jobs". The number of cases here is now doubling every three and a half days, about the same rate as overseas hotspots like Spain and NY.

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