Scott Morrison tonight announced a number of extreme measures implemented to stop the spread of coronavirus – but said schools will remain open.
Addressing media tonight following a National Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the prime minister said ensuring the school year was not interrupted was a priority, adding that we needed to “work together” to ensure children were educated while still trying to flatten the curve.
“It’s going to be a tough year in 2020 and one of the things I don’t want to have yielded up is a year of a child’s education,” he said.
He also said it was imperative to ensure parents who needed to continue to work, and couldn’t stay at home with their children, were looked after, saying that “everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker.”
The new bans included restrictions to social gatherings such as barbecues, dinner parties and even weddings, which will be limited to no more than five people including the couple.
Funerals will be allowed to have 10 attendees.
Food courts will be closed, with takeaway options only available, along with beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours.
Real estate professionals took a hit, with auctions, open house inspections banned along with amusement parks and arcades.
Play centres are also now included in the shutdown, as well as community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas and wellness centres.
Boot camps and personal training sessions are limited to a maximum of 10 people with strict social distancing rules observed.
However, schools will continue to operate for families who do not have the option to teach their children at home.
“We need to work so hard together to try and ensure that those kids get that education and that is not lost to this virus,” Mr Morrison said.
“The position of the national cabinet is that schools should remain open and they can provide distance learning for those parents that wish their children to remain at home, but importantly, for those parents who have jobs, who need to send their children to school for their learning, because they can’t stay at home with them, because they need to be at work, these are nurses, they’re doctors, they’re people who are working at Centrelink, people doing very important jobs,” he said, going on to comment on the extreme impact the virus has already had on employment.
“I mean, even just in the last few days, we have had impacts on our workforce in some of those areas in the public service which is compromising our ability to do those things.
“Now, we’re responding to it. But what we don’t need are arrangements we put in place which compromise society’s ability to function and deliver important services,”
He went on to reiterate health advice surrounding children and the spread of the virus.
“As we know, the medical advice is kids can safely go to schools. Under the arrangements we have already put in place we have seen the number of students attending schools reduce significantly,” he added.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy explained that “there is no evidence that we have of major transmission amongst schoolchildren.”
“We don’t know whether that might occur, we do know that children do not, in general, get symptomatic disease.”
Mr Morrison said he would be meeting with the Australian Education Union on Wednesday to devise a safety plan for teachers and students going forward.