explainer

"Can I travel interstate?" All your questions about Australia's new rules, answered.

COVID-19 updates are coming in thick and fast leaving many of us confused and concerned as we try and work out what we can/can’t/should/shouldn’t do.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference this morning announcing new measures to combat coronavirus, including bans on overseas travel and mass gatherings of over 100 people, but it left many with more questions than answers. (You can get up to speed with Scott Morrison’s speech here.)

WATCH: Your questions about COVID-19 itself, answered. Post continues after video.

Video by Mamamia

Here we’ll try and answer all of your burning questions, as we all try to navigate our new normal. A normal, the Prime Minister warns, that could last for the next six months.

Do I have to cancel my wedding?

If you have more than 500 attendees and are holding an outdoor ceremony and reception, yes.

If you are holding an indoor function of 100 people or more, yes.

They are the two most basic answers to that question based on the Federal Government’s current restrictions.

But what if your wedding is in the next month or so? The above still applies, unfortunately.

What about if your wedding is in May, June, July and beyond? The answer is we don’t know as we have no idea what COVID-19 will look like in a few months time because the pandemic is so fast-moving and things can change daily.

The Prime Minister said this morning that the current restrictions may last for up to six months. But the keyword here is may.

However, even if your wedding fits within the attendee numbers restrictions, if you have international guests coming to the wedding – especially if they are close family or friends that you’d like to have there on your special day – they may not be able to enter Australia or will be forced to self-isolate for two weeks once they reach our shores.

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How do I get home from the airport?

As of today, Australia has upgraded its international travel advice to the highest level, with all citizens told not to travel overseas.

Aussies currently overseas and on their way back (which is another directive of the government – to come home) will be required to self-isolate for 14 days once they return.

But how do you do that?

Travelling home
Returning travellers are allowed to get in an Uber, taxi, or family member's car as normal. But must increase their hygiene habits. Photo: by James D. Morgan/Getty.

The PM said in this morning's press conference that people will be allowed to get taxis and public transport from airports, and those that need to continue to travel domestically once here can do so.

Self-isolation is to begin once you've reached your final destination, although strict hygiene measures must be followed while in transit, including hand sanitisation and maintaining a 1.5m distance from others where possible.

A family member is also allowed to pick you up from the airport.

If I pick someone up from the airport, do I have to self-isolate?

Only if that person tests positive to COVID-19.

Can I travel interstate?

You are allowed to fly interstate right now. But if it isn't essential travel, the advice is not to.

If you can drive instead, do that.

Qantas has carved back domestic routes by about 60 per cent, and Virgin has slashed domestic flying capacity by 50 per cent.

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Can I go to the gym?

You are still allowed to go to the gym if it holds less than 100 people.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told ABC’s Insiders: "I think the gym is fine, but everybody needs to practice good hygiene."

However, given fitness spaces are synonymous with sweat and are notorious hot-spots for germs, there are alternatives popping up online to allow people to continue to exercise while practising social distancing and/or social isolation.

Sam Wood, former Bachelor and founder of 28 by Sam Wood, is hosting free live workouts via his Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Owners of Keep It Cleaner, Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith, are doing the same - offering free workouts on Wednesday and Friday mornings at 7am on their Facebook and Instagram pages.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

At KIC our mission has always been to provide easily accessible ways for our community to lead an active lifestyle. With recent events taking place around the world at the moment, we understand getting to the gym can be more difficult than usual. We want to ensure we are offering ways in which we can continue to stay connected, but also encourage overall wellbeing during this challenging time. We will be offering free live online workouts hosted by Steph Claire Smith & Laura Henshaw to help you remain calm and active with an inspiring community. With no equipment required, these sweat sessions will promise to get your heart racing, all from the comfort of your own living room. In these unique times, let's come together and be there for one another. WHEN: Wednesday & Friday mornings 7am ADST WHERE: Keep it Cleaner Public Facebook Page OR Instagram live via @keepitcleaner Tell your friends, register your interest through the link in our bio and be sure to join us each Wednesday and Friday for your new free weekly session!

A post shared by Stephanie Smith/Laura Henshaw (@keepitcleaner) on

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You can also find workouts on the Nike app, and on Joe Wick's YouTube page The Body Coach.

There's also, of course, running, walking and swimming in the ocean if you're near one.

ABC's Dr Norman Swan advises to steer clear of swimming pools however, as chlorination does not kill coronavirus and mixing with other people in a wet environment is "not good".

Should I sent my kids to school?

The current advice from the federal, state and territory governments is yes.

“The virus operates very differently among younger people. It presents a very different health challenge to the broader population,” Scott Morrison said this morning.

“The health advice I am happy to follow for my kids, is the same advice I am asking other parents to follow. As a father I am happy for my kids to go to school. Everything we do we have to do for six months. The disruption that would occur if we shut schools would be severe. Tens of thousands of jobs would be lost,” he explained.

What Morrison means by that is, if we shut schools it will affect about 30 per cent of our healthcare workers who will be forced back home to look after their children.

If your child is unwell however, they must stay home.

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Do I need to stockpile supplies?

Stop stockpiling.

That's the advice of our government.

Or as the Prime Minister described: "It’s ridiculous and it’s un-Australian."

There's a difference between stockpiling and stocking up, the latter of which many of us have to do as we are forced into social isolation either with the virus or because workplaces are in default 'work from home' mode.

But the advice is to buy what you need for your current situation, do not over-buy or 'panic buy' because it's causing demand issues for others.

Videos and photos are circulating on social media of empty shelves and brawls about toilet paper, which is not helping as it causes more and more people to head to their local supermarket to get supplies before they run out.

We need to remember that even if we are in lockdown, supermarkets will still be accessible.

Can I go to a restaurant/cafe/cinema?

We are all being told we have a responsibility to practice social distancing - aka maintain a distance of 1.5m between ourselves and others - but there isn't a restriction as of yet on shopping centres, cafes or cinemas.

The PM said wherever possible we “need to keep Australians working".

Can I visit aged care homes? 

If your parents or grandparents live in an aged care facility, and you have been overseas in the last two weeks or have come into contact with someone with the virus, no.

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If none of that applies to you, then you can visit.

But Scott Morrison reiterated this morning that the new rule means that only two visitors at one time will be allowed into each facility.

If the worst-case scenario happens and your loved one passes away, the Prime Minister said relatives will "under very strict measures be allowed to visit their deceased loved ones".

"We’ve got to protect our elderly for the long haul, for six months. And you cannot completely deny access to an elderly person in a residential facility to their closest next-of-kin," he added.

If I feel sick, what do I do?

If you have cold or flu-like symptoms such as a fever and a cough, you might have COVID-19.

Your first point of action is to call your local doctor and explain your symptoms and disclose your travel history, Dr Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases physician, told Mamamia.

“If you are feeling extremely unwell then, of course, you should go to the emergency room… But we don’t want emergency departments, who are already very busy, to get overwhelmed with people who don’t necessarily have to be there," she added.

Some states have also established dedicated COVID-19 clinics at certain hospitals, which you can visit without prior notice if you have symptoms. Visit your state’s health department website for details.

Advice is also available via the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 any time, day or night. Or phone HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse.

- With AAP

The Australian Government Department of Health advises that the only people who will be tested for COVID-19 are those with symptoms who have either returned from overseas in the past 14 days or been in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case in the past 14 days. 

If you are sick and believe you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your GP ahead of time to book an appointment. Or call the national Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice on 1800 020 080. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 000. 

To keep up to date with the latest information, please visit the Department of Health website.

Featured image: Getty.

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