New restrictions on who can be together in public
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tighter restrictions on how Australians can lead their lives during a national address last night.
The new restrictions, aimed to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, have reduced public gatherings from 10 people to two and urged anyone leaving their home to only socialise with one other person.
Mr Morrison also urged people over the age of 70 to go into isolation for their own safety and announced public exercise parks would be closed. The changes come into effect from noon today.
The Government's National Cabinet, made up of chief state and territory leaders and the Prime Minister and advised by health leaders, has proposed a number of restrictions in recent weeks to stop the spread of the virus.
Australia now has more than 4000 confirmed cases of the virus, and 16 people have died.
The NSW Police said for now they won't be enforcing the social gathering rules by law, and have urged the community to do the right thing.
Police Commissioner Mick Fuller asked the public to educate themselves "on the new laws and be sure the police will be out there".
"Can I say the Crime Stoppers reports continue to grow because of the community's dissatisfaction on how some people are embracing this emergency," Mr Fuller said.
He said for now, NSW is still open for business, but additional powers are available if people don't do the right thing.
"This is all about the protection of the people of NSW and it is also about protecting the economy."
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian backed the Commissioner, saying the objective wasn't to fine people, it was to get people doing the "right thing".
"We all have to adjust and play our part and hopefully we will all look back on this period as a difficult time but also a time when we all came together, stuck together and did the right thing by each other," Ms Berejiklian said.
Ms Berejiklian said police would be given the powers to enforce the new restrictions on public gatherings.
She said police would not be asking all people outside what they were doing but it "might come to that" if people don't do the right thing.
VICTORIAN PREMIER SAYS PEOPLE HOSTING DINNERS CAN BE FINED
The Premier of Victoria has warned people this morning that people gathering in groups of more than two that they're "breaking the law" and they will be fined $1600 on the spot.
"That is the key message today. Stay at home," Mr Andrews said in a forthright press conference this morning.
"If you are outside, or in your backyard, gathering in more than two people, if you are having friends over for dinner or friends over for drinks that are not members of your household, then you are breaking the law," Mr Andrews said.
He said people disobeying those instructions will be fined.
"Victoria Police will not hesitate to take action against you. That is how serious this is."
Mr Morrison said the restrictions on public gatherings had now been reduced to two people, outside of family groups or groups that live together in one household.
The advice is also that if your family or household group is with others outside the home, you're only to gather with one other person.
Mr Morrison said the guidance was important for women, in particular, who may be getting together for exercise "that they wouldn't be required to walk on their own and they'd be able to be able to work with another person".
Previously the Government had advised that people could gather in groups of 10 in a public place.
States and territories have been enforcing these 10-person limits with different on-the-spot penalties handed out by police. Mr Morrison said it would now be up to the states and territories to decide if penalties would apply to the two-person rule.
WHEN YOU CAN LEAVE THE HOUSE?
He reiterated that there were only four reasons to leave the house. These are:
- Shopping for what you need, including food and essential supplies.
He also gave the example that his wife Jenny had recently been out and bought jigsaw puzzles that would allow their family to be spending more time at home.
- Medical or compassionate needs.
- To exercise in line with social distancing rules.
- For work or education, if you cannot do this from home.
RULES FOR THE ELDERLY
Mr Morrison said the Government was also issuing strong advice to people over the age of 70 to "stay at home and self-isolate for their own protection".
"These arrangements should also apply to those with chronic illness, over 60 and indigenous persons over the age of 50," Mr Morrison said.
"They are not self-isolating for the purpose that people, that our health advice is that they carry, or are carriers, but this is for their own protection to limit their interaction with others in the community."
Mr Morrison said this didn't mean people over the age of 70 couldn't go outside for fresh air and recreation, "but they should limit contact with others as much as possible".
Mr Morrison also announced on Sunday night that public playgrounds, outside gyms and skate parks would also be closed.
In addition to this, boot camps are now to be reduced to two people only. Mr Morrison pointed out this "doesn't make it a boot camp, that makes it a private session with your trainer".
People exercising should do so in groups of two.
People exercising outside should follow social distancing measures, keeping a distance of 1.5 metres.
CAN YOU VISIT A FAMILY MEMBER?
This wasn't made clear in the press conference but is OK as long as social distancing is practised.
WHEN DO THESE RULES COME INTO EFFECT?
These rules come into effect from noon today.
Originally published as 'Might come to that': Gathering warning