Pubs, gyms, restaurants, clubs, casinos and even churches will be forced to close from midday on March 23 under increased social distancing rules being implemented by the federal government.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the national closure of a range of indoor venues following a meeting with state and territory leaders on Sunday evening.
Earlier in the afternoon, the NSW and Victorian premiers announced they would shut down “non-essential services” over the next 48 hours, with Victorian schools bringing forward the holiday period by two days to Tuesday, March 24.
Schools will remain open under the federal plan, although the PM said parents were free to keep their children at home if they wished.
This list of venues to close includes: licensed clubs, pubs, cinemas, casinos, nightclubs, indoor sporting venues and places of worship. The accommodation areas in pubs can continue to operate Restaurants and cafes can only continue operating as takeaway outlets only.
In good news for small retailers, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said small business such as hairdressers can continue to operate. Bottle shops will stay open because they are not considered somewhere people congregate.
“This should highlight to all Australians how serious this is,” the PM said.
“On the weekend, what we saw was a disregard of those social distancing practices. As people turned up to the beach in large numbers, crammed venues in our major cities,” Morrison said.
And while the new rules will be reviewed on a monthly basis, the PM warned that “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”.
The PM said the new stage 1 restrictions had been agreed by the national cabinet and Australians should expect measures to be in place for the next six months.
The PM reiterated schools would remain open. He acknowledged that Victoria would move up their school holidays by three days, seeing Victorian schools close on Tuesday. However, he stressed the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice remains the same: that it is safe to keep schools open.
“All state leaders have agreed that children should go to school tomorrow. Leaders agreed that we cannot see children lose an entire year of their education as a result of school closures caused by COVID-19.” Morrison said.
All leaders have committed to re-open schools at the end of the school break, subject to the advice of the Australian Health Principal Protection Committee.
Full list of restrictions
National Cabinet agreed to move to more widespread restrictions on social gatherings.
Premiers and Chief Ministers agreed to implement, through state and territory laws, new Stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings, to be reviewed on a monthly basis.
Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months.
The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
- Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
- Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.
Other facilities are not impacted, but will be considered under stage 2 restrictions, if necessary.
These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.
Leaders noted that these enhanced measures build on existing measures to slow the virus and save lives:
- No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
- All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
- Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
- Avoid non essential travel
- Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians