Federal Government advises against domestic travel, warns of 'draconian' social distancing measures

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned of more draconian measures to enforce social distancing.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison arrive at a press conference to announce the government's coronavirus stimulus package at Parliament House in Canberra, Sunday, March 22, 2020. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have unveiled more support to help those hit hard by coronavirus. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said authorities will be forced to use more draconian measures to enforce social distancing after some Australians failed to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously enough. 

The Federal Government has also told Australians to cancel any non-essential domestic travel, days after Tasmania and the Northern Territory introduced strict border control measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The new advice comes just weeks before the Easter school holidays. 

"It is regrettable and I know the impact it will have many people in those communities where those holidays were going to take place," Mr Morrison announced during a media conference on Sunday. 

Any non-essential travellers to Tasmania and the Northern Territory are already required to self-isolate for 14 days and Mr Morrison foreshadowed more states may follow. 

"It is the case that travel needs to be reduced to stop the spread of the virus across the country," he said. 

"Other states will be making other decisions about this issue and they will make further announcements today and I will leave them to make them."

A meeting of the national security cabinet planned for Tuesday night has been brought forward to Sunday night to consider further social distancing measures.

Several states are reportedly pushing for schools to be closed and pubs, restaurants and gyms to be shut down to curb the spread of coronavirus. 

"We need you to do your bit when it comes to social distancing and keeping that healthy distancing, to respecting and following the rules that we are setting down but more stronger measures will be coming and they will be coming in more localised areas to deal with outbreaks," Mr Morrison said. 

Questions over the need for enforceable social distancing rules come after the Health Minister Greg Hunt slammed thousands of people who flocked to Bondi Beach on Friday, flouting government health advice to remain at least 1.5 metres away from other people when possible.

As a result, major beaches across Sydney, including Bondi, Coogee and Maroubra, were closed on Sunday. 

Nearly 1,300 people have so far tested positive for the coronavirus in Australia, including seven elderly people who have died. 

Coronavirus symptoms can range from mild illness to pneumonia, according to the Federal Government's website, and can include a fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

As of Sunday morning, only people who have recently travelled from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case and experienced symptoms within 14 days are advised to be tested.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

3 min read
Published 22 March 2020 at 11:28am
By SBS News
Source: SBS