All People Entering Australia Ordered Into Isolation For 14 Days Over Coronavirus Spread Fears
Every person entering Australia will have to spend a fortnight in self-isolation from Monday, as the federal government scrambles to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also said new 'social distancing' recommendations were coming into force, which would discourage handshakes, and that state governments would enact laws to stop people gathering in large numbers.
"We will have a self isolation requirement on all International arrivals to Australia effective from midnight tonight," Morrison said on Sunday, just hours before the order was to come into effect.
"All people coming to Australia will be required, will be required, I stress, to self isolate for 14 days."
Morrison said it would be an "offence" for someone to enter Australia and not self-isolate.
"If your mate has been to Bali and they come back and they turn up at work in our city next to you, they will be committing an offence, so I think it is up to all of us to ensure that we are ensuring this is put in place," he said.
The PM also announced cruise liners from foreign ports would be banned from arriving in Australia for at least 30 days.
The new advice is similar to that enacted by New Zealand, deemed by some as the toughest in the world.
Monday will also see the commencement of the federal government's advice that Australians avoid large gatherings of more than 500 people -- and Morrison announced that state governments would enforce this advice by law.
"We will be preventing non-essential static gatherings of more than 500 people occurring across the states and territories," he said, citing such examples as stadium and theatre venues.
"The states and territories will be moving to put in place the appropriate arrangements under state based legislation to ensure that that is supported."
Morrison said this advice would not include larger public areas such as shopping centres or public transport.
On social distancing, Morrison said Australians should avoid shaking hands.
"The social distancing practices we are encouraging are being expanded. There are no more handshakes. That is a new move, and that is something I will practice," he said.
"This was not something that was necessarily a key requirement weeks ago, but it is just another step up now."
The announcement came just hours after Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy was asked about handshakes on ABC's Insiders program. Murphy did not say at 9.30am that Australians should avoid shaking hands, and did not recommend people avoid going to the gym or movie theatre.
Morrison also said the federal cabinet of ministers and state premiers would meet "more regularly" by video conference, instead of meeting in person, and that politicians would be travelling less to lessen risk.
It comes two days after Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton confirmed he had contracted coronavirus, sparking fears he may have infected other senior politicians.
The PM flagged that "there will be more changes in the future" as Australia responds to the coronavirus outbreak.
Deputy chief medical officer, Dr Paul Kelly, warned that the COVID-19 coronavirus is "not like influenza or any other viruses or diseases where we have vaccination".
"There is no herd immunity. Everyone is susceptible to this virus in Australia, and so that is why these unusual and proportionate measures that we are taking now to prevent the worst case scenario, which is that very high peak, is really important stop as we go through," he said.
"There will be other measures that may need to be introduced depending on how things work out in the coming weeks or months."
Kelly warned that the Australia's situation could get worse as the weather gets colder.
"What is different about Australia is we are not yet in winter. All of the places where we see the virus escalate very quickly through other parts of the world are in the northern hemisphere, they are in the latter part of their winter months," he said.
More to come.