While Scott Morrison has previously called an Australian-wide lockdown “reckless”, the prime minister elaborated on Friday as to why he’s hesitant to implement further restrictions amid the coronavirus crisis.
During a press conference, Mr Morrison announced that everyone arriving in Australia at airports will be quarantined for 14 days from midnight on Saturday in order to stop the increase in cases of the deadly virus.
When asked by journalists about the possibility of a lockdown requiring Aussies stay inside their homes for a lengthy period of time, the prime minister noted “that those who often are pushing for greater restrictions will keep their job”.
“I am not going to be so cavalier about it,” he continued.
“I will make sure I fight for every job I can because I know that that job means something very important to that person, and that family.
“And I would not compromise that principle, save only that there would be a compelling health reason to do so.”
Thousands of Australians have lost their jobs or had their hours cut in the past few weeks as businesses are forced to either close their doors or restrict services.
On Tuesday night, Mr Morrison banned all overseas travel and asked for people to gather in groups no larger than 10, with a 1.5 metre distance in-between people.
Pubs, restaurants and cafes can sell takeaway meals, but outdoor and indoor markets, gyms, galleries, museums, amusement parks and beauty salons are closed indefinitely.
‘Creates unnecessary anxiety’
Mr Morrison also discouraged the use of the word "lockdown" because “it creates unnecessary anxiety” and causes issues such as panic-buying.
“Shopping centres, more specifically, supermarkets, food, all the things that Australians are going to need - well, they are going to continue to be able to access those in the normal way.
“So, I would caution against the way people talk about this word ‘lockdown’, and the reason I'd say it is this... I don't want to give people - none of the premiers do - that that is going to be some place we might get to, where people can't go out and get essential supplies, that they can't get the things they need to actually live life for the next six months.”
“I think it does create unnecessary anxiety because that is not an arrangement that is actually being considered in the way that term might suggest,” he said.
‘You better be ready’
During his press conference on Friday, Mr Morrison thanks the Australian public for adhering to the recent restrictions.
But he said he couldn’t say absolutely such restrictions would prevent further action.
“I think where further restrictions are necessary, further restrictions will be applied. That is the approach we’re taking,” he said.
“Today, as we have met, we believe what we are doing to target this most particular area of risk is what is necessary for today,” noting the mandatory hotel quarantine.
Restrictions will depend on the different phases of the virus’ progress in the country’s separate states and territories.
“Even, frankly if we were to go into further restrictions and say that they might be done for two or four weeks and reviewed after that time, you better be ready to do it for six months,” he said.
“Because at what point do you pull it back? I think with what we are learning about the virus that would be very challenging.
“Now, let's hope that wouldn't be required. But the reality is, I think if we are being really, really brutally honest is that once these restrictions come in place, they stay in place and will be in place for some time,” the prime minister said of a lockdown.
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