Public gatherings restricted to just two people

Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced further to stop the spread of COVID-19.

National Cabinet has agreed to further limit most indoor and outdoor non-essential gathering to just two people as of today.

That means exercising in groups is now banned, down from 10 people to just two; or meeting for coffee or lunch at the park with multiple friends.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said only two people should now gather in public spaces and “other areas of gathering”, but it will be up to states to enforce that limit. The PM said households could still gather together, but individual people can only meet with one other person.

“There has been a restriction of 10 people at a gathering in an outdoor area or shopping centre or anything like this. That advice is now strengthened to say that it should be reduced to two persons,” he said.

“States and territories will determine whether they want to make this an enforceable limit in the same way the 10 person limit is already being enforced.

“We’ve agreed that in all cases this is the strong advice of all states and territories. Unless it is your household, a family, those living at your residence, with one other person as a gathering outside as required. That provides, importantly, for those who may need to get daily exercise.”

He advised that everyone should stay home unless you are shopping for essentials, receiving medical care, exercising or travelling to work or education.

People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Indigenous people aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection and self-isolate, he said.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young asked people to limit visiting others in their home and to consider other ways of keeping in touch, such as phone calls.

“We need everyone to stay in their own home where possible and ensure social distancing at all times. Unfortunately this no longer means you can invite your friends over,” Dr Young said.

The new measures included closing parks and playgrounds, gyms and limiting boot camps or fitness sessions to two people (essentially the instructor and one other person). Running/walking groups were also banned, with pairs now the new maximum (down from 10 people), a move the Prime Minister said was to prevent women having to train on their own.

The new stay-at-home guidelines have few exceptions:

  • going to work or education (if you are unable to do so at home)
  • shopping for essential supplies such as groceries, return home without delay
  • going out for personal exercise in the neighbourhood, on your own or with one other
  • attending medical appointments or compassionate visits.

“Whenever you are out of the home, always practice good physical distancing and hand hygiene,” Dr Young said.

In other developments overnight, evictions will be put on hold for 6 months by the states and territories. Landlords and renters are encouraged to talk about short term agreements, with more information to come from National Cabinet this week.

A safety net package of $1.1 billion has also been announced by the Prime Minister to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief.

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the rate of infection in Australia was lower than predicted and there was “evidence that the public health measures that we are putting in place and the social distancing measures are likely to be having some early effect”.

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