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"This is not an easy decision." Everything we learnt from Scott Morrison’s latest COVID-19 press conference.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has addressed the press after Tuesday night’s meeting with the National Cabinet, delivering Australia’s latest response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further restrictions have been placed on businesses and other non-essential facilities, and these new rules will come into place from midnight tomorrow (Wednesday, March 25).

Here’s what we learnt.

Further social distancing measures will be put in place.

From midnight tomorrow the following services and businesses will no longer be able to operate:

– “Food courts will not be allowed to continue. But getting takeaway from those food outlets in those shopping centres, that can continue because takeaway is able to be done,” said Morrison. However, retail spaces will still be allowed to operate as long as they adhere to social distancing rules.

– “In the retail space, auction houses, gathering together in auction rooms, that can no longer continue. Real estate auctions and open house inspections, in particular, open house inspections, that cannot continue.”

– “Outdoor and indoor markets excluding food markets like Flemington, because that is essential to ensure the food supply across the country. They will be addressed specifically by states and territories in each of their jurisdictions. States and territories have very different arrangements in terms of the types of markets they have and they’ll be making those decisions specific to their states and territories,” said Prime Minister Morrison. However, he specified that the goal is to avoid “large gatherings brought together by particular organised events… That is the principle the states and territories will be seeking to follow.”

– “The following now won’t be able to continue: Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours,” Morrison told media. However, allied health services like physiotherapists will still be allowed to operate.

– “Hairdressers and barbershops can continue the services but it is very important to strictly manage the social distancing and limitations of the number of people in their premises, so that’s four square metres per person. On top of that, to restrict the amount of time a patron is in the premise to no more than 30 minutes. And preferably less.”

– Amusement parks and arcades will be closed as of midnight tomorrow.

– Community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres will also be closed under these new rules. Boot camps and personal training sessions are still allowed, however, they must be limited to a maximum of 10 people and social distancing arrangements must be enforced. Social, sporting-based activities and swimming pools will also no longer be allowed to operate under these new rules.

Restrictions to weddings and funerals.

– “Weddings can continue to be conducted where it is just the couple, the celebrant and the witnesses. No more than five people and the four square metre rule has to be observed within the venue in which that is taking place. But, large gatherings for weddings, sadly, won’t be possible under these new arrangements.”

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– “Sadly, also, and I know this will be very difficult, funerals to no more than 10 persons, observing the rules around the four-square metre rule and the social distancing practices. This is not an easy decision.”

Further recommendations placed on leaving the house and non-essential gatherings.

– “Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary you go out. Going out for the basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members, provided it’s a small group, that’s fine. But [avoid] going outside and going out and participating more broadly in the community unless you’re shopping for basics or there are medical needs or you’re providing care and support to an individual at another place.”

– “Visits to your premises, to your house, to your residence, should be kept to a minimum and with very small numbers of guests. We don’t want to be overly specific about that, we want Australians to exercise their common sense. So that means barbecues of lots of friends, or even family, extended family, coming together to celebrate one-year-old birthday parties and those sorts of things, we can’t do those things now. These will be a significant sacrifice, I know.”

– “House parties where someone wants to now have the social events, not at clubs and venues like that but to organise a party at someone’s home, the states and territories will be particularly looking at that one and consider whether they’ll specifically put measures in place that could lead to that being an offence for those who have organised those types of events.”

– “You should only go outside your home to go to those essential things I talked about, not to go and congregate in groups.”

Schools to remain open.

– “The medical advice on schools has not changed. It is safe to send your children to school. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting – and there has been discussions today between the Education Minister, Dan Tehan, and the education national unions, and I will be meeting with them tomorrow.”

– “It’s going to be a tough year in 2020 and one of the things I don’t want to have yielded up is a year of a child’s education, which is so important. We need to work so hard together to try to ensure that those kids get that education and that is not lost to this virus.”

– “As we know, the medical advice is kids can safely go to schools. Under the arrangements we have already put in place we have seen the number of students attending schools reduce significantly. That actually assists in observing the other issues around social distancing that applying more broadly across the community. So we can do this. We can work this out.” 

– “That would mean ensuring the schools in those states that haven’t already ended the term, which is only Victoria, that we would be able to continue to keep those schools open up to the end of the term, but I would anticipate for several days prior to the end of the term there will need to be pupil-free days while the teachers and school staff work on the projects they have already been pursuing on extending distance learning.”

– “For all those workers who need to send their children to school, that’s why the schools need to remain open. Now if you ask me who is an essential worker? Someone who has a job. Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker.”

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A stringent travel ban will be put into place.

“We have previously had a ‘do not travel’ warning on Smart Traveller in terms of all overseas travel – that will turn into a ban. Using the biosecurity powers that were afforded to us by the Governor-General through the Minister for Health.

“There will be exceptions to these rules which will be set out in the directive that will be provided. But this would include people involved in aid work in the Pacific and the support we’re providing. It may involve compassionate travel and essential travel for employment, things of that nature.”

Rental relief measures are coming.

“A lot of progress has been made over the course of today and over the course of this week we will look to finalise some measures. This is a complicated issue because you have a tenant, a landlord, you have creditors and all of those issues and you need to solve for the entire chain that’s there. But the states, working together with the Treasurer, have done some excellent work today and there is more work to be done on that.” The Prime Minister also said that this issue will continue to be discussed during Wednesday night’s National Cabinet.

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.

Read more on COVID-19

The current situation around COVID-19 might be making you feel scared or uncertain. It’s okay to feel this way, but it’s also important to learn how to manage feelings of anxiety during this time. To download the free PDF: Anxiety & Coronavirus – How to Manage Feelings of Anxiety click here.

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