Coronavirus: PM bans overseas travel, limits gatherings amid historic new rules

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter
  • Limit indoor gatherings to 100 or under

  • Overseas travel banned

  • Schools to stay open

  • Aged care facility visitor limits

  • PM calls on Aussies to stop hoarding

  • Anzac Day services cancelled

Scott Morrison has announced tighter restrictions for Australia amid a surge in coronavirus cases, advising all Australians not to travel abroad.

The prime minister said the travel ban was the first time such restrictions had been advised in the nation’s history.

“Do not go overseas. That is very clear that instruction,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday.

On Sunday night, all Australians overseas were urged to come home immediately.

All indoor non-essential gatherings of 100 people or more have also been banned, adding to the existing ban on outside gatherings of 500 or more.

Mr Morrison said areas such as public transport, supermarkets, hospitals and schools were not included as they are deemed essential. 

Office buildings, universities, child care facilities and hotels are also exempt.

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

Mr Morrison said individual state governments would enforce the new restrictions and that they have the power to add additional places that are deemed non-essential.

Scott Morrison announcing tighter restrictions on Wednesday morning. Source: Nine

He refrained from implementing a lockdown seen in several European countries including France and Spain in recent days.

“We are going to keep Australia functioning,” he said.

“A critical issue is... delivering the important services that are necessary which, at the end of the day, mean that we can support the most vulnerable in our community who are at most risk from the affects of the coronavirus.

"There is no two-week answer to what we're confronting ...The idea that you can just turn everything off for two weeks and then turn it all back on again and it all goes away, that is not the evidence."

He said the restrictions could last for up to six months.

Mr Morrison also announced a human biosecurity emergency has now been declared by the National Security Committee.

So far there have been 455 confirmed cases in Australia and five deaths.

Australia's confirmed coronavirus figures as of 6.30AM on Wednesday.

Schools to stay open

Mr Morrison said the advice from Australia’s health advisors was to keep schools open.

He pointed to Singapore, where schools have been kept open with its government able to curtail the spread of the virus.

LIVE: Global coronavirus news and updates

Several private schools have however already closed down and concerned parents have started pulling their children out of class.

“I am telling you that, as a father, I'm happy for my kids to go to school,” Mr Morrison said in a bid to reassure the public.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (right) and Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy address the media on Wednesday. Source: AAP

School travel on public transport will continue, Mr Morrison said, but urged all children to enact social distancing.

Any parent who believes their child is unwell should not send them to school under any circumstance.

"It will be hard for schools, but it would be much, much, much harder for society if the schools were closed," chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said.

Strict visiting rules for aged care facilities

Mr Morrison announced only two visitors at one time would be allowed in an aged care facility moving forward.

Visitors include social supports, family, friends, professional services and advocacy workers.

Children are advised to visit only in exceptional circumstances.

Anyone who has returned from overseas in the last 14 days, who has come into contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days or is showing symptoms of being unwell are prohibited from entering an aged care facility.

The restrictions include staff.

“I know these will be difficult, having been through this experience in my own family recently,” Mr Morrison said.

Anzac Day events cancelled

Mr Morrison confirmed that all Anzac Day events across the country will be cancelled.

He said there will be a televised event from Canberra, while states are likely to follow suit, to allow people to join services remotely.

“That will enable people to be able to join those services, at least remotely, on what is one of the most important days, if not the most important day of the year for Australians,” Mr Morrison said.

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