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A 4sqm rule and a late budget: What we learned from Scott Morrison's Friday press conference.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a press conference on Friday afternoon in which he announced the next phase of his Government’s “scalable, sustainable” plan to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Australia.

Chief among the announcements was an adjustment to the rules about non-essential indoor gatherings. Such events are already limited to 100 people in an effort to promote social distancing, but that now goes even further.

“What we are now moving to is an arrangement for gatherings of less than 100, is that they would be four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space, in a room. So that’s 2m by 2m,” Prime Minister Morrison told media.

“So for example, if you’ve got a room… that’s 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.”

Prime Minister Morrison stressed that the measure is about regulating the capacity of a venue, and that the social distancing advice for occupants is still to stay 1.5 metres away from each other.

“These, I think, are very practical and sensible arrangements that venues and other commercial premises and public premises, that we can manage,” he said.

“It just simply means understanding how big the room is and then simply advising how many people can be in that room at any one time. And we would also be seeking the cooperation of patrons and others, to ensure that they can do the same thing.”

The announcement will no doubt force drastic changes in some businesses and hospitality venues, many of which will likely have to reduce or alternate staff or further limit the number of patrons.

Listen: Experts answer your most pressing questions about COVID-19.

What else we learned….

The Federal budget will be pushed back from May until October: “Putting budgets together at this time, with the great uncertainty that exists, is not something that any Commonwealth or State Government should be doing. As a result, we have already decided that we will not be now handing down a Budget until the first Tuesday in October, on the 6 October.”

Travel to be restricted to remote Indigenous communities:“Under the Biosecurity Act we’ll be using the Health Minister’s powers to ensure that we are taking action to restrict travel into are emote Indigenous communities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The way this will work is states and territories will nominate prescribed areas — that is, communities — in consultation with Indigenous communities as an emergency requirement…that will restrict persons from entering or leaving those prescribed areas.” Exemptions will apply for emergencies and for critical services including education, food, medical care, mental health and domestic violence support.

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Extra funding for aged care services: An additional $446 million in funding will be made available for aged care services in order to keep them running throughout the local outbreak. This will include funds to help facilities retain staff. Other funds will be set aside to support in-home care providers, such as Meals on Wheels.

A second stimulus package is coming: “We are working on a package that will cushion the blow over the next six months, and will provide the necessary support so people can get on that bridge, to get them to the other side. That is focusing heavily on small, medium-size businesses, sole traders, and it is also providing for the incoming support that will be necessary for those most directly impacted by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.”

READ MORE:

Australia’s death toll rises to 7 and everything else you need to know about COVID-19 today, Friday March 20.

“We could lose everything”; 10 women who have lost their job or income due to COVID-19.

Sore throat? Cough? A doctor explains what to do if you have coronavirus-like symptoms.

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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.

Feature image: Getty.

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