On Sunday night prime minister Scott Morrison implemented the nation’s most stringent restrictions yet amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, notably banning public gatherings of more than two people.
And while the prime minister said exercise outside was still allowed, alongside essential shopping trips that could even include buying puzzles for your children, he was insistent there were now some Australians who shouldn’t be leaving their home at all.
Mr Morrison identified three sets of people who should be self-isolating and while he said it wasn’t a compulsion, it was “strong advice”.
In a similar move to the UK, those over the age of 70 should stay at home “for their own protection to the maximum extent practicable,” the prime minister said.
If the elderly want to exercise or get fresh air, they are urged to do so within their own property or within the grounds of their complex.
People over the age of 70 will not face on-the-spot fines being used in states for groups being found outside, but it is understood they will be asked to reconsider their need to be outside by authorities.
Mr Morrison stressed the government’s advice wasn’t because the elderly were feared to have contracted COVID-19 but as a line of protection by minimising their interaction within the community.
He said the same restrictions should be implemented by anyone over the age of 60 who has a chronic illness.
For Indigenous people, anyone over the age of 50 should also stay inside.
Elderly will get support, Mr Morrison says
For anyone who needs support, Mr Morrison said the government was upping its investment in home-based services for elderly residents.
When asked by a reporter how the elderly are now meant to get groceries, medicines, anything else they need, Mr Morrison said family, friends or community members should look to assist primarily.
If that was not possible, electorate offices will be looking to assist the vulnerable and should be made aware of those in need.
“I'm sure they could get support through other local community organisations, volunteer groups, that those services and those numbers are available,” he added.
On Monday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian reiterated Mr Morrison’s stance on the elderly.
“If you are over 70 you shouldn't leave home at all... Can I stress, please take care of each other and make sure people over 70 are not leaving their homes and make sure they have support,” she told reporters.
Ms Berejiklian said anyone in NSW who is in need of support can call 137788 for assistance.
Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein said people concerned about the elderly would be allowed to leave their homes for “compassionate care”.
“[That] would be checking on a neighbour or an elderly relatives,” he told reporters on Monday.
Woolworths to help elderly in isolation
The advice for elderly people coincides with Woolworths ramping up its commitment to vulnerable Australians unable to leave their homes.
The supermarket giant has partnered with Australia Post and DHL Supply Chain to launch the 'Woolworths Basics Box' across ACT, New South Wales and Victoria for customers unable to leave their home. Other states are expected to follow in the coming weeks.
Available for $80, the 'Woolworths Basics Box' will contain meals, snacks and a few essential items.
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