As pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas and indoor sporting venues across the country shut down, Australians are questioning what socialising they can do.
But Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews delivered a grim warning to those thinking they can hang out at a friend’s house — even in small groups.
Mr Andrews said while pubs, restaurants and clubs were shut down to the public, this did not mean you “move the party into homes” where virus infections can still occur.
“We had a case last week where a group of people, a dozen or so, went to a dinner party,” Mr Andrews told reporters at a briefing this morning.
“As best we can tell the dinner party started with one person who had the coronavirus by the end of the dinner party, almost everybody at the dinner party had the coronavirus — this spreads rapidly.”
Mr Andrews said that one person infected with COVID-19 managed to infect 10 other people at the dinner party.
“Whether you call it being Australian, being Victorian, whether you call it decent behaviour, civic duty, I don’t care what you call it, just do it,” he said. “You need to keep your distance.”
Stage one of tough new social gathering restrictions started at midday today.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the new rules at a late night press conference on Sunday.
Australians should expect the measures to be in place for at least six months, he said. They will be reviewed on a monthly basis.
WHAT IS CLOSED?
• Registered and licensed clubs
• Night clubs
• Indoor sporting venues
• Indoor churches and other places of worship
• Cafes and restaurants can open but are restricted to take away and/or home delivery only.
• Hotels can only open the accommodation aspect of their business.
• Bottle shops
• Food delivery
• Petrol stations
• Convenience stores
• Hairdressers and beauticians
• Freight and logistics
• Post offices
WHAT ABOUT SCHOOLS?
Mr Morrison made it clear in an address to the nation on Sunday night that schools should remain open across the country. But he gave parents the option to keep children home until the school holidays.
Victoria has already acted, announcing it was bringing forward Easter holidays to Tuesday.
Schools in New South Wales will remain open “for parents who have no option” but Premier Gladys Berejiklian encouraged parents to keep their children at home “for practical reasons”.
Queensland still has two weeks of school remaining, with term one ending on April 3. While NSW, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory have three weeks left with the last day of term on April 9.
CAN I WALK MY DOG?
Under the new measures, you are still allowed to leave your house and move about in the world — meaning that you are still allowed to take your dog for a walk.
“If you’re not ill and if you’re not in self-isolation, then you can obviously get about your life in that way,” Mr Morrison told the ABC’s David Speers.
He did further explain in his national address that the Federal Government has strongly advised against “non-essential” interstate and intrastate travel.
“When it comes to piling all the kids in the car and taking them four hours away, or getting on a plane and flying to the other side of the country, then no — we’re saying that should not be done.”
CAN I GO TO MY FRIEND’S HOUSE?
While going to a friend’s house might seem like a low-risk activity, as pointed out by Mr Andrews, you can still contract the virus.
Health experts have warned people to stay home.
The whole point of introducing these measures is so people distance themselves from each other to help “flatten the curve”, and try to limit any activity that isn’t absolutely necessary.
“You are playing with fire if you visit your friends,” associate chair and professor of health science at Ball University Jagdish Khubchandani told Huffington Post.
“At this point, we have to act like everyone is infected. You can be a risk to yourself, your family, your friends and the entire community.”
Professor Khubchandani said that the only people you should be seeing at the moment are those you can’t avoid — those you live with, or people you have “stable relationships” with, like a significant other.
“Even in those cases, it’s with all the precautions, hygiene, and distancing as much as possible.”
CAN I STILL GO TO THE PARK?
If you observe the 1.5 metre social distancing rule. you can still go to the beach or to a local park – provided that fewer than 500 people are there at the same time.
Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, said keeping a 1.5-metre distance from others is essential, but it’s the bare minimum people should be doing.
“We must minimise the number of interactions that which have other people in a day,” Dr Young said.
“It just makes sense – if you come across 100 people in a day, you have 100 times the chance of getting coronavirus than if you come across one person in a day. So social distancing is also limiting your series of interactions.”
WHY CAN I STILL GO TO THE HAIRDRESSER?
Hairdressing salons are small – and the concept of staying further than 1.5-metre away from your stylist while they cut your hair seems impossible.
During his national address, Mr Morrison was quizzed about hairdressers and beauticians, which he said will remain open for now.
“The only ones that can’t remain open and provide those services are the ones that I’ve listed to you this evening,” he said. “Only those ones. Only those ones.”