Australian states are moving to a shutdown of more businesses with only those deemed as essential services allowed to remain open in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
On Sunday afternoon, Victoria and NSW broke ranks with the federal government flagging major shutdowns and the impending closure of schools.
In a press conference at 9.30pm Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the health advice continued to be that schools remained open, and provided a detailed list of the venues across the country that will be closing from midday Monday.
In the end, state and territory leaders appeared to agreed on Sunday night to a staged process starting with a shutdown of “principal places of social gathering”.
Pubs, registered and licensed clubs and night clubs will all be forced to close across Australia today. Hotels will also need to close, excluding the accommodation.
However, despite the mad rush seen at Dan Murphy’s on Sunday, there is an exemption for bottle shops, including those attached to pubs, which will be able to remain open.
All cinemas and entertainment venues will be forced to close.
Gyms and indoor sporting venues will be closed.
All churches and places of worship will be shut down from midday Monday.
Restaurants and cafes will have to close any indoor dining and will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery only.
Retail stores, including hairdressers will remain open, however. Shopping malls are also allowed to stay open, Mr Morrison confirmed on Sunday night.
What will stay open?
Freight and logistics
For any indoor events that do take place, such as funerals, a one person per four square metres rule applies.
“As I have stressed and the Chief Medical Officer has stressed ... once you start putting these sorts of arrangements in place we should have the expectation that they will remain in place for at least six months,” Mr Morrison told reporters Sunday night.
“If the health situation changes and enables us to reconsider those arrangements, then that can be reconsidered.”
PM forced to act when Australians ignored social distancing advice
Mr Morrison said the latest tightening of restrictions was necessary because it was clear Australians were not adhering to the social distancing advice given by the government and implored people to take heed of the serious messaging.
“The failure of our public to do that will put people at risk and make it extremely difficult for governments to be able to take actions that can control the flow and spread of this virus,” he said.
It’s expected the police will begin enforcing the latest shut down rules from 12:00pm today.
Mr Morrison labelled the partial shutdown as phase one, but could not say what phase two might entail or if it would ever be required.
The government did say that confining people to their homes was not a measure “that has been contemplated at this point ... there is no reason for anyone to do that.”
Mixed messages lead to widespread confusion
On Sunday, the country’s two biggest states broke away to pre-empt the federal government and announce strict closures.
The Victorian government this morning is expected to further detail what the next few weeks will look like for residents in the state after it announced shut down measures prior to last night’s meeting with state and federal leaders, and whether or not they differ from those announced by Mr Morrison.
“Victorians will still be able to go to the supermarket, the bank, the pharmacy and other essential stores, like petrol stations and convenience stores,” Premier Daniel Andrews said in a statement
Freight, logistics and home delivery are considered essential and will remain open.
What the shutdown means for other businesses in Victoria was less clear on early Monday morning. More details on the the measures are expected as the Victoria and NSW premiers will front the media.
Victoria is also closing schools on Tuesday, in a clash with the federal government. On Sunday NSW said schools will open Monday but left the door open for an early closure and a move to distance learning.
The ACT also followed the lead of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and said it would close schools.
Despite the Prime Minster’s insistence that schools should remain open, the ACT’s Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry said that would not be the case.
“The decision the ACT Government has made is consistent with NSW and Vic and won’t change. I don’t know why the PM suggested otherwise,” she tweeted following the Prime Minister’s press conference.
“Education will continue to be phased in for online/distance learning.”
As of early Monday morning, there are 1354 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia.