Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Coronavirus update: public gatherings restricted to two, over 70s to self-isolate, moratorium on evictions

March 29, 2020 BY

PUBLIC gatherings will be restricted to two people and those over the age of 70 will be “strongly advised” to self-isolate, according to the latest advice from the national cabinet about slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking in Canberra on Sunday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced public areas – public playgrounds, outside gyms and skateparks – will be closed from tomorrow and boot camps will be reduced to two people, and everyone would need to “completely change the way they are going to live” for at least the next six months.

Members of the same household will be allowed to be together both inside and outside.

The strong advice to self-isolate will also apply to those with chronic illness, people over the age of 60 and Indigenous persons over the age of 50.

On Monday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said his state would be enforcing the Stage 3 restrictions.

“If you are outside, or in your backyard, in gatherings of 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, you face an on-the-spot fine of more than $1,600 and Victoria Police will not hesitate to take action against you.

“That is how serious this is. No one in my position enjoys doing this. We’re not doing it for any other reason than this is life and death.

“If we allow our health system to be overrun, then people will die.”

There will also be a moratorium on evictions for the next six months on the basis of “financial stress”.

“Now there is a lot more work to be done here and my message to tenants, particularly commercial tenants, and commercial landlords, is a very straightforward one,” Mr Morrison said.

“We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out, about looking at the businesses which have been closed, businesses that may have had a significant reduction in their revenues, and we need landlords and tenants to sit down and come up with arrangements that enable them to get through this crisis.”

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy said the advice was very simple – everyone needs to stay home unless going out to shop, to do personal exercise, to go to medical appointments, or to go to work or study if you can’t work from home.

“So anyone who doesn’t need to be out of their home should be in the home. This is radical.

“The vast majority of Australians have done the right thing in the last week. We have seen huge evidence of that but we have also seen some very silly behaviour of people who haven’t complied with that, particularly outdoors and sometimes indoors.”

Mr Morrison said it was important that parents and families and households could get the things that they need “to completely change the way they are going to live for the next six months at least, and so what we have done is sought to be practical about these issues”.

The federal government is also encouraging people to download its Coronavirus Australia app (for both Apple and Android devices) and to sign up to its special WhatsApp feature.

For the latest updates, head to dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus.