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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the government will be advising against organised non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday amid the coronavirus crisis.
It comes after the country’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, advised the Council of Australian Governments to reconsider letting the events go ahead.
COAG was given the advice during a meeting in western Sydney on Friday, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison and premiers and chief ministers have been considering how best to respond to the health crisis.
Mr Morrison said the announcement did not include schools or university lectures.
“It does not mean people getting on public transport or going to airports or things of that nature,” he told reporters.
“These events that we are seeking to advise against and restrict are for non-essential, organised gatherings of persons of 500 or more.”
Mr Morrison said the advice would not be implemented straight away as there was no concern over already organised events this weekend.
“We are not of great concern right now in terms of where those gatherings might be today, but in the weeks ahead, this will change,” he said.
Mr Murphy told reporters Monday was also the day he advised.
“We are getting ahead of the curve,” he said.
“There is no immediacy about this, but we need to get ahead of the curve and so the recommendation was Monday and the premiers and the prime minister agreed with that.
“I wouldn’t have mattered if they’d made a decision one or two days either side. It was felt that that was a reasonable time to progress.”
Following the announcement the Sydney Royal Easter Show confirmed the annual event would not go ahead this year.
7News reports organisers are “heartbroken” over the decision to cancel the show which runs for the first two weeks of April.
On average the event attracts more than 828,000 people each year.
Aussies advised to avoid travelling overseas
Mr Morrison told reporters through the government is also advising Australians to reconsider the need to travel overseas, regardless of your destination, age or health.
“If your travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time,” he said.
“So we are effectively putting in place what is called a level three travel advice for travel of Australians overseas. This is done to protect their health and to limit their exposure, given we have so many countries now that are affected by the coronavirus.
“Only essential travel should be considered if you are going overseas from this point forward.”
The advice comes after the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Formula One organisers on Friday announced the season-opening grand prix in Melbourne won’t go ahead – the first major sporting event in Australia to be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Cricket Australia has moved to ban spectators from Australia's one-day series against New Zealand and will hold the series behind closed doors.
The AFL has said it's considering its position amid the outbreak.
Scott Morrison blasted over ‘dangerous’ footy call
The prime minister was earlier under fire for seemingly encouraging people to attend mass gatherings as coronavirus continues to spread in Australia.
Top infection control expert Bill Bowtell said Mr Morrison's stance was dangerous, and he couldn’t understand why there hadn’t been a blanket ban on large, public events.
“Facts and evidence dictate that these mass gatherings should not take place,” the professor, from the Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity, told the ABC.
“We must bring down the rate of new infections of coronavirus in this country. And we must do so in the next hours and days.”
Events across Australia cancelled amid coronavirus outbreak
Miley Cyrus also announced she has withdrawn from a bushfire relief concert in Melbourne, only three days before she was due to take to the stage.
Taking to Twitter, the 27-year-old wrote: “Due to the recommendations of local, state, federal and international government authorities, including the Centre for Disease Control, to reduce potential health risks in response to the current global health crisis, we are no longer travelling to [Australia] for the show”.
"I am so disappointed to not be there, but I have to do what is right to protect the health and safety of my band and crew.
I am so disappointed to not be there, but I have to do what is right to protect the health and safety of my band and crew. I will still be making a donation to help the victims of the Australian bush fire. I’m sorry to miss everyone in Australia, but I will be back soon.
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) March 10, 2020
“I will still be making a donation to help the victims of the Australian bushfire. I’m sorry to miss everyone in Australia, but I will be back soon.”
Tasmania's internationally popular festival, Dark Mofo, has too been cancelled over coronavirus fears.
Festival organiser and art collector David Walsh took to Facebook to announce the news, saying he was "killing Dark Mofo for the year".
The statement read, "We’re killing Dark Mofo for the year. I know that will murder an already massacred tourism environment, but I feel like I have no choice (hint: that means I have a choice)."
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