Senate debates

Monday, 23 March 2020

Questions without Notice

Coronavirus

2:06 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Dean Smith for that question. As I mentioned earlier, this is first and foremost a health crisis and the government is dealing with the health battle as our highest priority. Our health mission is to slow down the spread of the virus to save lives. We will not be able to stop the spread of the virus, but by slowing it down we will ensure that our health system has the best possible chance to appropriately prioritise treatment and support for our most vulnerable fellow Australians. Already 14,079 individuals, as of 1 pm today, have tested positive to COVID-19 and sadly there have been seven deaths.

That is why we have, through the national cabinet, put in place a series of stage 1 restrictions on social gatherings. The following facilities have been restricted from opening from today: pubs; registered and licenced clubs; hotels, excluding accommodation; gyms and indoor sporting venues; cinemas; entertainment venues; casinos; nightclubs; restaurants and cafes, which are restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery; religious gatherings at places of worship; and funerals in enclosed spaces and other than in very small groups where the one-person-per-four-square-metre rule applies.

These enhanced measures build on prior measures, including there being no non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside. All non-essential indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people must have no more than one person per four square metres. Where possible, keep 1½ metres between yourself and others. Avoid all non-essential travel. Restrictions on entering aged-care homes to protect older Australians have, of course, also been put in place.

Unfortunately, there will likely be more restrictions to come. This is a very difficult period. We're only at the beginning. This will get worse before it gets better, although it will get better. Federal cabinet will continue to act on the medical advice as this crisis unfolds. Everything we do will be aimed at protecting the health and livelihoods of the Australian people.

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