PM Scott Morrison talks tough on pandemic as shut downs loom
From Monday at midday, Australia will become a vastly different place to live as pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas and sporting venues shut down indefinitely.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new raft of serious restrictions on non-essential gatherings in a bid to slow the rapid spread of coronavirus.
More liberal measures rolled out last week fell on deaf ears, with Australians continuing to cram into venues across the country this weekend.
As a result, stage one of tough new shutdowns will be implemented on Monday March 23 at noon covering a wide range of venues.
They include all pubs, registered and licensed clubs, and licensed premises inside hotels and pubs, Mr Morrison said.
Entertainment venues, cinemas, casinos and nightclubs will also close.
Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to providing takeaway only, with dining now forbidden from midday.
Also subject to the closure order are indoor sporting venues and places of worship.
"Enclosed spaces for funerals and things of that nature will have to follow the strict four square metre rule which will be enforced," Mr Morrison said.
Scott Morrison says there is "no change to the medical expert advice" regarding schools closures, and that schools will stay open until the end of term.
He said premiers and chief ministers agreed that schools should reopen on the other side of the term break, subject to the health advice at that time.
"Health advice has been clear and they have remained open and this is important because I want to stress this, I do not want to see our children lose an entire year of their education," the PM said.
"What we will be doing though is allowing parents to the end of this year's school term, to be able to keep their children at home where they choose to.
"But for all of those parents who wish to send their children to school, for an education at the school, those schools will remain open. In addition, schools will seek to provide learning at home in a distance learning framework but you cannot be assured that that will come in place immediately."
And the PM has warned school children that the upcoming Easter break "will not be a holiday" as it normally would.
"This term break will be like none other. This will not be a holiday as it is normally known for the break in term," Mr Morrison said.
"There will not be trips interstate, there will not be those holiday normal type arrangements. There will not be congregating up at the trampoline venue or whatever it happens to be. That will not be happening. It won't be a holiday as anyone has ever known it.
"And it is important I think that families and households understand that because over the course of the term break, we need to ensure that we continue to follow the very strict rules around social distancing.
"This is a critical time. An absolutely critical time. The decisions that parents make, that we all make, over the course of the next few weeks in particular could very seriously determine the trajectory that Australia continues to go on in relation to the coronavirus. So I would seek and implore Australians to follow this advice. You will be saving lives and you'll be saving livelihoods."
Earlier this evening Scott Morrison urged Aussies to stop panic buying, but warned it will be months before life returns to normal.
The PM said there were plans to eliminate food and medicine shortages, and said Australia was better equipped to deal with those challenges than other countries.
But he said the shutdowns and social distancing were here to stay for now.
"As I've said, there is no need…to rush out and do the things that we were seeing some weeks ago," he said.
"But equally, I need to address this - the suggestion that you can just lock the country down, or a state, for two weeks or four weeks, and the virus passes, is naive, and it's false. That at the end of that two or four weeks and you ease restrictions, the virus just starts again.
"If you put arrangements in place that shut down large parts of the country and the economy, then you better be prepared to hold on to those arrangements for at least the next six months."