Coronavirus: Services, businesses shut down by government to stop COVID-19 spread

STAY INDOORS: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
STAY INDOORS: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Pubs, clubs, cinemas and gyms are among those who have been forced to shut their doors amid a worsening COVID-19 crisis.

The Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced tough new measures to take effect from midday Monday, March 23, which also included closing non-essential services such as places of worship, indoor sporting venues and nightclubs.

The NSW Government has gone even further with Premier Gladys Berejiklian asking parents and carers to keep their children home from school. She said schools would remain open for families that have no other option but encouraged those who could provide home care to do so.

"Already last week we had up to 30 per cent of parents who chose to keep their [children] at home and we appreciate and anticipate that number will increase," she said.

According to the NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell, schools will move to an online learning model.

"We have been preparing for this since the beginning of the year," Ms Mitchell said. "We have a lot of material that is ready to go."

The Teachers Federation issued a statement on Monday, criticising the 'hypocritical and contradictory' information coming from the Prime Minister and the Premier.

"The Prime Minister's statements on Sunday evening were hypocritical and contradictory while the Premier failed to provide unequivocal advice [on Monday] morning. What we have now is a recipe for chaos," the statement said.

"Teachers and principals have now been thrust onto the frontline of this crisis. There is but scant reference to the safety of teachers and principals, and other school employees, in dealing with this crisis."

Supermarkets, banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, food delivery, freight and logistics, bottle shops, beauticians and hair dressers are to remain open for now. However the Prime Minister stated that interstate travel must be scrapped. Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and home delivery.

In an announcement on Tuesday evening, the government tightened the shutdown further, closing seating in food courts, open homes and beauty salons other than hairdressers from midnight on Wednesday.

Weddings and funerals have been drastically curtailed. Weddings are only allowed with a couple, a celebrant and witnesses, no more than five people. Funerals are restricted to 10 people, with weddings and funerals both required to adhere to the rule of one person for each four square metres of space.

The Prime Minister also announced that Australia's "do not travel" advice was now a ban on all overseas travel - other than some exceptions such as aid work in the Pacific and possibly also some compassionate travel.

Police have urged the community to ensure they comply with orders and directions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Following the federal government's announcement that it is a requirement for all entrants to Australia, including returning travellers, to self-isolate for 14 days, NSW Health and the NSW Police Force would 'work together to ensure risks to the community are minimised'.

''The community has been very responsive to public health information and the government's recent direction to self-isolate and the vast majority of people have done the right thing and complied with the Public Health Order," NSW Police said in a statement.

The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides NSW Police with the power to enforce public health orders.

It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with an order.

Crime Stoppers now has a reporting option to take informationfrom the public about anyone not complying with Public Health Orders.

Reports can be made online at: www.nsw.crimestoppers.com.au or by calling Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

For any inquiries related to COVID-19, people are being urged to call the Coronavirus Health National Information Line on 1800 020 080.

Those who think they may have contracted the virus are urged to self isolate and call ahead to talk to a doctor or call healthdirect on 1800 022 222.

According to healthdirect those who have severe difficulty breathing should call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about any recent travel history or any close contact with a person with confirmed COVID-19. Visit hwww.healthdirect.gov.au/coronavirus for more information.

NSW Health has also established one-stop website updated daily, that helps the community find the facts about COVID-19, including the best ways to protect themselves and their families. It can be found at health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/diseases/Pages/coronavirus.aspx. Additional information can be found at health.gov.au.

Clinics across the Hunter have been set up to test for COVID-19 at Belmont, John Hunter, Maitland and Calvary Mater hospitals.

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