Scott Morrison urges Australians to stay home this Easter, warning coronavirus progress 'can be easily undone'

Australians have been urged to stay at home with their immediate families over Easter to restrict the spread of coronavirus as the national toll rose to 50.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at Parliament House in Canberra.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks at Parliament House in Canberra. Source: AAP

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australians to stay home this Easter weekend, warning against complacency during the holiday period.

"Progress can be easily undone, as we have seen in other places around the world," Mr Morrison said at the start of a parliamentary sitting to pass $130 billion in economic measures.

"We are only a few days away from Easter, a time that should give us great hope, and the message is clear, though: stay home, don't travel, don't go away. We can't let up now."

Health Minister Greg Hunt warned abandoning social distancing rules over the long weekend would undo everything done to curtail the crisis.

"The virus doesn't take a holiday," he told reporters.

Australia's death toll from the coronavirus has hit 50 as political leaders warn now is not the time to ease the measures that are preventing much higher fatality rates.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy on Tuesday released modelling showing restrictions have helped flatten the curve of the virus' spread.

 Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The nation's premiers and chief ministers have also firmly warned Australians against complacency.

Some states have even threatened fines for people who attempt to stay in their holiday home or rental accommodation over the coming weekend. 

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she understands Easter is usually a time to “move around” but said that’s not acceptable this year. 

“Please stay at home,” she said. 

“The more we do, the better options we have as a community moving forward.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
Source: AAP

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has advised would-be-holiday makers they should remain in their primary residence.

He says those found flouting the rules could face a $1,000 fine under the state’s public health orders. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he understood people were desperate to do the things that were normal for them at Easter time, like visiting relatives.

"All that will achieve is that we spread the virus and we give back, if you like, all the gains that we've made," he said.

Restrictions would have to stay in place for the medium term, he warned.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
Source: AAP

But Victoria's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said people would be allowed to visit a holiday home as long as they abided by the stay-at-home directions.  

In Western Australia, police roadblocks will be in place to enforce travel restrictions between the state's nine regions. 

The state's Premier Mark McGowan told Western Australians only essential travellers would be permitted to travel outside these restrictions.

"Don't be an idiot and don't take unnecessary risks," he said. 

"If you try and get caught you will face a large fine - so don't take the risk, stay home and stay safe." 

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has also advised people to cancel their Easter and school holiday breaks to avoid mass movements of people to small towns. 

NSW Police officers ask a family to move on while on patrol at Rushcutters Bay park in Sydney.
Source: AAP

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tasmania’s Premier Peter Gutwein have also urged residents not to stray from home.

"Now is not the time for a holiday," Ms Palaszczuk said

"Now is a time to stay in your suburb."

Holiday-makers could face fines for non-essential travel

Under COVID-19 restrictions people can face varying fines for participating in non-essential travel within state restrictions.

This includes fines of up $1,000 in NSW, $1,300 in Queensland, $1,600 in Victoria and $1,000 in Western Australia. 

Meanwhile, in NSW and Victoria, the booking of non-essential Airbnb properties has essentially been declared illegal. 

All states and territories, except Victoria, NSW and the ACT, have also imposed restrictions requiring non-essential interstate travellers to quarantine for 14 days.   

Easter religious ceremonies go online 

Worshipers won't able to attend religious services over the Easter weekend with restrictions on these events still in place. 

But the services will continue to be available for people to watch them through online streaming methods. 

This was made possible after the Federal Government eased restrictions on members of religious orders taking part in these types of ceremonies 

Australians are being advised to stay at home, other than essential activities including buying essentials, exercise or seeking medical help.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

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. SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments.

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Published 8 April 2020 at 1:06pm
By Tom Stayner