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Confined To Our Homes And Face Masks For All: What Australia Could Look Like In Lockdown

Coronavirus lockdowns are operating in a number of countries across the world, and there are growing fears Australia could soon follow suit.

We don't know when this crisis is going to be over and it's tipped to get worse before it gets better.

Experts say we are teetering on the edge of a full blown economic disaster and the government may be forced to take drastic measures, similar to the ones seen in European nations like Italy and France.

Lockdowns in Australia are certainly possible if we want to stem the spread of the deadly disease, but what would that mean for everyday life?

Australia could adopt similar lockdown measures as seen in Italy and Spain. Image: Getty

During the weekend, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed "all options are on the table" and by 'all options' he means potential lockdowns in parts of the country.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy echoed those comments when questioned about whether lockdowns similar to those in Italy and Spain could be enforced in Australia.

"It is potential that could be the case, but that may be focal," he said.

"One of the things we know about outbreaks of infections is they can affect one part of a country, but not the other."

If we were are forced into a total lockdown, simple tasks such as ducking to the corner store to grab a carton of milk will carry a whole host of complexities.

Here's how other nations are going about it, and there's no denying it paints a pretty bleak picture for Australians.

Italy

Cases in Italy have soared to more than 24,000 as the Covid-19 crisis grips the nation of 60 million people.

Italy's lockdown started in its north-most regions of Veneto and Lombardy before the government moved to a national lockdown on March 9.

As part of the strict measures, Italians can only leave their homes for work, medical reasons or other emergencies.

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Italy's 60 million residents will be placed under lockdown conditions, and movement will be restricted across the entire country as coronavirus cases rise.

Haunting images paint an eerie picture of a nation in isolation as almost all stores have closed their doors, with the exception of a few grocery shops and pharmacies.

Italians who want to travel -- especially by air -- must obtain police permission and healthcare workers have been told to cancel their holidays.

Additionally, people are no longer allowed to visit family or friends in prison, or they have restricted time to do so, which triggered outcry and deadly riots.

The Colosseum in Rome before and after the lockdown. Image: Getty

Italians are also banned from waiting with loved ones in emergency rooms.

The restrictions are set to last until April and have turned a usually vibrant nation into a ghost town.

Spain

Home to more than 46 million people, Spain is among several other European countries which have shut down everyday institutions and forced residents into lockdown.

Its partial lockdown started on Saturday as part of a 15-day state of emergency following news Spanish President Pedro Sanchez's wife tested positive for the virus.

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Schools and universities are closed, with many retailers also shutting their doors.

Spaniards are only allowed to leave their home to buy food and medicine, to go to hospital, visit the bank or petrol station, or to help the elderly or vulnerable get from A to B.

China

China is no longer considered the epicentre of the virus. Europe is, according to The World Health Organisation.

This is thanks to the nation's brutal response to the virus, which had helped trigger a gradual decrease in cases.

Residents had posted video footage online that appears to show officials welding the doors of apartment buildings shut, and of officials wearing hazmat suits dragging citizens into the back of trucks.

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Authorities started the major lockdown by halting transport in and out of Wuhan --where the virus originated.

People were ordered to stay home unless they needed to buy groceries or seek medical care. Schools, offices and factories shut down and private vehicles were banned from city streets.

The lockdown then spread to several other cities, which covered about 60 million Chinese citizens.

What Does It Mean For Us?

If the Federal Government decides to take a similar approach and call for a national lockdown, history suggests we will be confined to our homes and state and territory borders could even close.

Grocers, cafes, restaurants, schools, universities and fitness centres will shut down and the fight to gain supermarket essentials will likely become even more fierce.

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When the Spanish flu made its way to Australia in the early 1900s, it went on to kill more than 6,000 residents in NSW alone, forcing the state government to take immediate action.

A lockdown started with the closure of all libraries, schools, churches, theatres and public halls, or any other venues which might host mass gatherings.

Citizens were made to wear a surgical mask at all times and congregating in public spaces was banned.

Medical staff and workers from Riley Street Depot, Surry Hills, April 1919. Image: NSW Health

State border control was then enforced, stopping people from leaving NSW and spreading the disease, which had arrived in Sydney by ship.

Medical practitioners were given powers to restrict the movement of individuals, especially those who had come into contact with infected patients, and you could expect to cop a fine of £20 ($40) if you breached the restrictions.

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Queenslanders are being urged to stop hugging and kissing and the premier has warned plane arrivals they face being fined if they don't self-isolate.

The illness eventually passed, but not without claiming the lives of more than 12,000 Australians. But perhaps that figure would have been higher if extreme measures had not been taken.

10 daily contacted Woolworths and Coles for comment, with both supermarket-giants saying they would comply with government recommendations regarding whether to stay open during a potential lockdown.

The Australian Medical Association declined to comment.