Indoor public gatherings of more than 100 people will be banned under changes made to the State of Emergency by the Victorian Government and restrictions will be placed on aged care facilities in Victoria, following agreement by the National Cabinet.
The new measures are in addition to the banning of mass outdoor gatherings of more than 500 people and the 14-day isolation of travellers coming to Australia that are already in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
There are 121 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Victoria and 464 confirmed cases nationally.
The new restrictions for indoor venues come into effect at 5pm today and will mean that any gathering at venues like restaurants, pubs, or cinemas that have more than 100 people can’t occur. There are exceptions outlined in the directions, including places like supermarkets and public transport.
From now, across Australia, visits to aged care residents will only be allowed for a short duration and by a maximum of two people per day, except for palliative care. This recognises that elderly people are particularly vulnerable to this virus.
Children under the age of 16 will only be permitted to attend aged care facilities in exceptional circumstances and further guidelines will be provided to aged care staff around hygiene practices. These directions will be enforced by the Commonwealth Government, which administers this sector.
Venues that don’t comply with these new directions on mass gatherings face fines of up to $100,000. People who don’t comply face fines of up to $20,000.
The National Cabinet has agreed to additional cleaning on public transport, which is already being implemented in Victoria, and is urging employers to consider staggered work times and remote working arrangements to reduce overcrowding at peak travel times.
The public is advised to sit in the back of taxis and ride shares, while mass transport should be avoided by people vulnerable to the virus, including the elderly.
It was also agreed to cancel ANZAC Day events, while acknowledging that due to the day’s importance there can be formalities but no crowds.
The advice to National Cabinet as it relates to schools, childcare centres, and universities has not changed and they will remain open at this time.
We’ve always said our actions would continue to change to match the advice of the experts and we’re continuing to do all we can to ‘flatten the curve’ of COVID-19 and give our health system the best chance of managing the virus.
These are strong and unprecedented measures, but as we move to contain coronavirus, we will do what it takes to help keep Victoria safe.
Quotes attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews
“The National Cabinet is united in doing everything we can to slow the spread of this virus and protect the lives of Australians.”
“These measures are unprecedented in our lifetimes, but they are necessary to combat this pandemic and flatten the curve so our health system is not overwhelmed.”
Quote attributable to Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos
“Our decisions are being guided by the very best medical advice – we know that these decisions are difficult and confronting for people, but they are also necessary to fight the pandemic.”
Dr Annaliese van Diemen,
Deputy Chief Health Officer (Communicable Disease), as authorised to exercise emergency powers by the Chief Health Officer under section 199(2)(a) of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic).
18 March 2020