Daily News Roundup

March 25, 2020

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 25

As the Tokyo Olympics were postponed and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer warned the government would “not tolerate” people who flouted orders to self-isolate, the Prime Minister has expanded the nationwide crackdown on social gatherings.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new restrictions late on Tuesday following a National Cabinet conference call with state and territory leaders.

And today he will meet with teachers’ unions worried about the health of their members. 

The meeting comes a day after the Australian Education Union (AEU) met with Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan.

Mr Morrison has personally intervened on schools already, pushing states and rebel sectors to fall in line and stay open.

He made it clear last night schools should be open for the children of all parents who are working, the aim being both to keep health workers on the job at hospitals and to stem job losses caused by a parent needing to care for a child.

His position is, any job is essential at the moment.

He said the changes regarding social gatherings were necessary to functions identified as “major transmitting events”.

From midnight on Wednesday, these activities and businesses will no longer be allowed to continue:

  • Amusement parks and arcades
  • Indoor and outdoor play centres
  • Community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres
  • Public swimming pools
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres
  • Auction houses
  • Real estate auctions and open house inspections
  • In-store beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours, spa and massage parlours (excluding allied-health-related services, like physiotherapy)
  • Food courts within shopping centres will only be able to sell takeaway. Shopping centres themselves will remain open

Mr Morrison also addressed specifics around a number of other activities:

  • Hairdressers and barber shops can continue, but a customer must not be on the premises longer than 30 minutes
  • Personal training and boot camps are limited to a maximum of 10 people
  • Weddings can continue, but only with the couple, the celebrant, and witnesses totalling a maximum of five people
  • Funerals are limited to a maximum of 10 people
  • Outdoor and indoor food markets will be addressed by individual states and territories

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, appearing with the PM on his nationwide telecast, said health officers were deeply concerned about the rate at which new COVID-19 cases are being confirmed.

“We are very worried about the rate of rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Australia, particularly over the last few days,” he said.

“It is a very, very steep growth and it’s very concerning

“Still, a significant proportion of those new cases are returned travellers or contacts of returned travellers.”

His warning came after the Prime Minister banned Australians who were not travelling for work or aid purposes from heading overseas, and it came with the notification that those who do return will be monitored.

“We are really serious now about returned travellers,” Professor Murphy said.

“You leave the airport, you go home and stay there for 14 days and the states and territories will be checking on you.

“We will not tolerate anybody putting the community at risk as a returned traveller.

“People coming back from some countries — and you know which ones they are — have a high risk now of carrying the coronavirus and they are the people who’ve largely led to the spread of the virus in our community over the recent weeks.

“So, returned travellers, please, stay at home, don’t go anywhere on the way from the airport or the cruise ship or wherever you are from.”

The International Olympic Committee announced overnight the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will be postponed by one year after a request from Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier announced he had requested the postponement after a late-night teleconference with IOC President Thomas Bach.

“I asked if the IOC could consider postponement for around a year and Mr Bach ( IOC President Thomas Bach) said he was 100 per cent in agreement,” Mr Abe said.

“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held at the latest by the Summer of 2021 — and [Mr Bach] agreed with that.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has warned further shutdown measures are imminent, as the state’s confirmed coronavirus cases jump by 55 to 466.

  • In other COVID-19 developments:
  • Mr Andrews said states would soon need to take individual measures because the pandemic was at different stages in different parts of the country.
  • News that a $US2 trillion ($3.4 trillion) economic rescue package is close to passing the US Senate has seen Wall Street rebound from the lowest level in three years in a bear-market bounce.
  • Virgin Australia will stand down 8,000 of its 10,000-strong workforce and suspend 90 per cent of its domestic flights as states close their borders because of coronavirus.
  • The Federal Government has been urged to rescue more than 200 Australians stranded on an Italian-bound cruise ship that has just recorded its first case of coronavirus.Passengers on the Costa Victoria have been ordered to stay in their rooms as the ship sails towards Venice, where it was due to dock this