States to shut down non-essential services, Victorian school holidays brought forward

Restaurants, pubs, gyms and entertainment venues are among businesses expected to close across New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory over the next two days.

The Sydney Opera House can be seen in the reflection of a restaurant window as a worker uses a vacuum in Sydney

The Sydney Opera House can be seen in the reflection of a restaurant window as a worker uses a vacuum in Sydney Source: AAP

All non-essential services in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory will be shut down over the next two days in a drastic ramping up of the states and territories' response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In Victoria, holidays will also be brought forward to enable schools to close from Tuesday

Schools in Canberra will be open on Monday but move to online learning from Tuesday.

In a statement ahead of a national cabinet meeting on Sunday night, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the shutdown would exclude supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, and home delivery. 

Schools will be open on Monday, Ms Berejiklian said, but flagged she would announce further details on whether they would continue to operate in the near future.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said he expected other states to also shut non-essential services following Sunday night's meeting, 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews described the new measures as a matter of life or death. 

"This is not something that we do lightly, but it’s clear that if we don’t take this step, more Victorians will contract coronavirus, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and more Victorians will die," he said in a statement.

Mr Andrews said all measures were consistent with health advice provided by the Victorian chief health officer.

Empty tables at the Sydney's Opera Bar restaurant, Sydney on Saturday.
Diners have already been staying home rather than eating out. Source: AAP

The number of COVID-19 cases in Victoria rose to 296 on Sunday, after 67 new infections were recorded.

NSW reported an additional 97 positive tests on Sunday, which marked the largest one-day jump recorded in Australia so far. There were 533 confirmed cases in the state on Sunday, including six of Australia's seven coronavirus-related deaths.

As of 1pm AEDT on Sunday, there were 1,286 confirmed cases across all Australian states and territories.

On Sunday morning,  as he urged Australians to cancel all non-essential domestic travel.

"More stronger measures will be coming and they will be coming in more localised areas to deal with outbreaks," Mr Morrison said.

During the same media conference, Mr Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced further measures to support casual workers, small businesses and sole traders who are likely to be hit hard by the shutdowns.

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 2:15pm
By Maani Truu