Australia

What you can and can't do under Australia's coronavirus shutdown

A number of businesses will be forced to close their doors under new Coronavirus measures introduced by Federal and State Governments. Source: AAP

At midday Monday, Australians' way of life significantly changed.

Late on Sunday night the Federal Government and states and territories agreed to dramatically ramp up restrictions to control the spread of coronavirus. 

At midday Monday, many venues and businesses closed while restaurants and cafes became restricted to takeaway only. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the measures were implemented because Australians had not been following social distancing guidelines.

Beachgoers ignore barriers at Bondi beach.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is not happy with some Australians' failures to comply with restrictions.
AAP

“We cannot have the confidence as a group of leaders that the social distancing guidelines and rules that we have put in place won't be followed to the level of compliance we require to flatten the curve and slow the spread and save lives,” he said. 

"This should highlight to all Australians how serious this is and how hard we all have to work together to get this right." 

The new measures were agreed to by the national cabinet and will be enforced by state and federal authorities. They are in place indefinitely. 

What is shutting down?

The Federal Government has shut down “principal places of social gathering”.

These are public venues and businesses where large amounts of people tend to congregate, raising the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Pubs, bars and licenced clubs (including RSLs) have served their last drinks and were ordered to close at midday.

Bars and Restaraunts have been ordered to close.
Bars and Restaraunts have been ordered to close.
AAP

Entertainment venues, cinemas, casinos and nightclubs were also shut.

Gyms and indoor sporting venues have been closed, but parks and public spaces remain open for public use. 

Places of worship were also shut down, with religious gatherings and funerals to be suspended, unless only a very small group is involved and the one person per four square metres rule can be followed.

What businesses will stay open?

Essential services are being kept open to all Australians.

This includes supermarkets, petrol stations, convenience stores, banks and pharmacies.

Restaraunts and cafes will only be able to offer food delivery and takeaway services under new Coronavirus measures.
Restaraunts and cafes will only be able to offer food delivery and takeaway services under new Coronavirus measures.
AAP

Shopping centres, retail stores, and bottle shops are also exempt.

Restaurants and cafes will remain open, but they are only able to offer takeaway or home delivery services.

Hotels with accommodation are allowed to operate, but they need to close their licensed venues.

Freight and logistics operations will also continue to ensure Australia's supply chains are unaffected.

Businesses that continue to operate during the pandemic are being encouraged to ensure employees observe social distancing guidelines or work from home.

Why aren’t schools being shut down?

On Sunday night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there had been no change to the medical advice that schools can remain open.

“This is important because I want to stress this, I do not want to see our children lose an entire year of their education,” he said.

“The premiers and chief ministers all have the same view that schools should reopen on the other side of the term break, subject to the health advice at that time.”

But the Prime Minister also said parents can keep their children at home if they choose. Some schools have announced they will start providing online classes.

Some states are taking measures into their own hands, with Victoria and the ACT to begin school holidays early on Tuesday.

Schools will remain open under current Coronavirus measures.
Schools will remain open under current Coronavirus measures.
AAP

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berijiklian has gone one step further and is encouraging all parents in her state to keep their children at home.

“Last week already we saw 30 per cent of parents choose to keep their children at home, and I appreciate that number would likely increase the closer we get to school holidays,” she said.

“For practical reasons, so there's a single unit of work, we're encouraging parents, where they can, to keep their children at home.”

Are Australians allowed to leave the house?

The current measures do not constitute a nationwide lockdown like those seen in Europe, or a stay-at-home order like those in place across the United States.

Australians are still allowed to leave their homes and move freely, but are advised to practice social distancing in public. That means keeping at least 1.5 metres away from the nearest person or adopting the one person per four square metres rule inside. 

The Federal Government has also advised Australians to cancel non-essential domestic travel, including holidays and interstate trips.

Tasmania, WA, the ACT, and South Australia have announced new border restrictions, forcing all interstate arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days.

Queensland announced it would implement similar measures on Monday, but Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk did not immediately elaborate on what they would be. 

Additional reporting by AAP.

If you believe you may have contracted the coronavirus, 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.

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