This morning, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, addressed the nation to reinforce our national approach to COVID-19 and new measures decided overnight.
The number of people infected is very low – and the aim is to keep this low. Strategies being put in place could be in place for the next 6 months to provide a buffer for the economic impacts already being felt throughout the Australian economy.
It is likely that more economic measures will be made available sometime on Friday.
Mobility and travel
The Federal Government has upgraded their travel ban to Level 4 for the entire world. This means that Australians are being asked to not travel overseas. This is an indefinite ban.
Domestic travel is considered low risk, but there are some areas people are discouraged from visiting, including remote Indigenous areas.
While there is more detail to come, the decision has been made to limit indoor gatherings to no more than 100 people for non-essential purposes. Essential purposes includes work (such as offices or factories) for the purposes of maintaining business, supermarkets, transport and transport hubs, health facilities. The exception is aged care which has its own measures detailed below. Outdoor gatherings remain limited to a maximum of 500 people. ANZAC Day events will be cancelled.
This will be enforced by the States and Territories – and could evolve over time.
There are further restrictions to support the health and wellbeing of older Australians living in aged care facilities. Homes and visitors now must:
- Limit visits to short times
- Limit to two visitors at one time, per day
- Visits should be conducted in a resident’s room rather than communal areas
- There should be no large group visits or gatherings – including social gatherings or entertainment
- No school groups allowed to visit
In the case of a resident nearing the end of their life, a home will have the discretion to make special arrangements for the family to visit them. That will be done on a facility-to-facility basis, and must still observe social distancing requirements.
That adds to earlier restrictions on people visiting aged care homes including:
- Those who have returned from overseas in 14 days
- Those in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19
- Those who have not been vaccinated against influenza after 1 May
Schools to stay open
Similar to the approach taken by Singapore, the stance of the Federal Government is to keep the schools open. This is to ensure that the Australian workforce won’t be impacted by having to care for children over the next 6 or more months the Government is anticipating measures will need to be in place for.
The message from the Prime Minister is to stop hoarding. This is putting undue pressure on supply chain and taking attention away from other measures to support the economy.
The Australian Army has been supporting the identification of local supply chain options for additional personal protective equipment.
Restrictions have been lifted on student nurses, allowing 20,000 student nurses to support healthcare efforts.
Waivers for the aviation industry
The Federal Government will waive $715 million worth of fees and charges for domestic airlines. This will be backdated to apply to charges from 1 February 2020, returning almost $160 million to the industry.
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