Coronavirus: PM explains strict new indoor gathering guidelines

Olivia Lambert
News Editor

The prime minister has announced new rules to determine how many people should gather in an enclosed space amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday he announced a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 or more people. On Friday he went a step further announcing new rules for gatherings of less than 100 people.

Mr Morrison said indoor gatherings of less than 100 could only take place in a room that has at least four square metres of space per person.

“So for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premises, if you’ve got a meeting room or something like that that’s 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room,” he said.

This includes people in offices, restaurants, bars and other public indoor spaces.

“Now in addition to that, you should continue to practice wherever possible the 1.5 metres of healthy distance between each of us to ensure that we are limiting the contact and limiting the potential for the spread of the virus,” he said.

Mr Morrison said every Australian had a role to play to slow the virus.

Coronavirus live blog: Latest news and updates about the crisis in Australia

“Don’t wait to see a sign, don’t wait for any other specific instruction. Do the right thing, do the common-sense thing and support each other and you will save lives,” he said.

Mr Morrison claimed Australia would be facing the challenges of the coronavirus for the next six months.

Australian borders closed from 9pm Friday

The clarification on allowed indoor gatherings comes after the government on Sunday banned outside gatherings of 500 or more.

The latest announcement comes after Australia revealed it would be closing the country’s borders to non-Australian citizens on Friday at 9pm.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new social distancing guidelines. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians could still return but would still have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Mr Morrison said about 80 per cent of coronavirus cases in Australia were the result of somebody who had contracted the virus overseas or someone who had direct contact with somebody who returned from overseas.

The number of coronvirus cases in Australia has now surpassed 750 and seven people have died.

An Australian man with coronavirus has died in Iceland, according to local reports.

Schools to remain open

Mr Morrison said the situation had not changed when it came to schools and preschools and they would remain open.

“It is in the national interest to ensure that we keep schools open, and I want to thank all of those schools who have been putting those arrangements in place,” he said.

However school students will not face national literacy and numeracy testing in 2020 because of the spread of coronavirus.

Education ministers made the decision to bin the NAPLAN tests at a meeting on Friday. The exams were scheduled for May.

The advice to keep schools open in Australia has not changed. Source: AAP

The ministers said cancellation would help teachers and principals "focus on the wellbeing of students and continuity of education, including potential online and remote learning".

"Further, the impact of responses to the COVID-19 virus may affect the delivery of NAPLAN testing, including the operation of centralised marking centres and the implications for nationally comparable data if an insufficient number of students are available to do the test," they said in a statement.

But they reiterated the strong medical advice that schools should remain open for now.

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