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Elderly told to self isolate ‘for their own protection’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Australians should not gather in groups of more than two people and those aged over 70 are being advised to self-isolate as part of new social distancing rules laid out by the Prime Minister tonight.

Australians should not gather in groups of more than two people and those aged over 70 are being advised to self-isolate as part of new social distancing rules laid out by the Prime Minister tonight.

The announcement came following this afternoon's National Cabinet meeting with all state and territory leaders.

Scott Morrison said that the previous advice of gatherings of no more than 10 people "has now been strengthened to that it should be two persons in public spaces and gatherings."

"The two-person limit was to take into consideration the need for people – women in particular, wouldn't have to exercise alone.

From tomorrow, boot camps have been banned and all skate parks and playgrounds will be closed.

Personal training sessions between one person and their trainer are still permitted.

The limit does not apply to households, education or employment.

Retail stores will be allowed to remain open for now, but people should only "buy what they need".

"When you are going out for shopping, you should be going for just stuff you need and do it and get home," Mr Morrison said.

"It is not a time for browsing. It is not a time for catching up with friends or bumping into people and having a long conversation."

The PM also noted that all the members of one household were still able to gather outside, but if anyone from outside that household was present the two-person limit applied.

Mr Morrison said the advice was being issued at a national level, but some states plan to introduce legislation to make any such gatherings illegal.

NSW has already said they will enforce the measure.

The restrictions around weddings and funerals – which have already been limited to five and 10 people respectively – remain unchanged.

Those over the age of 70 are being advised to self-isolate at home, avoiding contact with others as much as possible, due to their increased risk of serious illness from COVID-19.

As well, people aged over 60 with chronic illness and indigenous people over the age of 50 should self-isolate as much as possible.

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Dr Siouxsie Wiles from the University of Auckland created this infographic to show of the effectiveness of social distancing.

"This does not mean that they cannot go outside – they can go outside for the purpose of recreation, getting fresh air, with a support person," Mr Morrison said.

"It is advice that we are putting in place for their own protection.

"It is not the medical advice that older Australians will be acting as carriers of the disease. This is being put in place for them."

He encouraged older Australians to draw on the help of community groups, as well as extended family and friends.

The Prime Minister stressed that no one should be leaving their homes except for four reasons:

  1. To buy essential supplies;
  2. To work, if unable to work from home;
  3. To exercise;
  4. To attend personal medical appointments.

The new measures come despite a decrease in the escalation of new cases.

Today, coronavirus cases dropped to nine per cent – down from as much as a 30 per cent daily increase last week.

Mr Morrison said the new measures were being put in place because it wasn't clear that the current restrictions would be sufficient, noting that Sydney, Melbourne and south-east Queensland were seeing continued clusters of community transmission.

"If we have a big community outbreak and we lost control, then you could get very rapid doubling… at the moment, it is still a precarious position," he said.

Advice on how to self-isolate.

"Every single Australian needs to take this seriously or community transmission could get out of control and we could have a situation as terrible as even they are seeing in the US at the moment."

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy said in order for social distancing to be effective, at least 90 per cent of the population needed to adhere to the rules all of the time.

National Cabinet Statement

National Cabinet agreed to limit both indoor and outdoor gatherings to two persons only. 

Exceptions to this limit include:

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Individual states and territories may choose to mandate and/or enforce this requirement. 

National Cabinet's strong guidance to all Australians is to stay home unless for:

National Cabinet agreed that playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms in public places will be closed. Bootcamps will be reduced to two persons, including the trainer. 

These measures will be in place from midnight tomorrow night. 

Relief for renters facing eviction

Renters will be offered a moratorium on evictions, in a bid to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said a series of principles had been agreed at Sunday night's national cabinet.

"The most significant of those is that states and territories will be moving to put a moratorium on evictions of persons as a result of financial distress ... for the next six months," he said.

Further work is being done by federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and his state and territory counterparts on commercial tenancies.

But Mr Morrison underlined the need for landlords to work with their tenants and banks on solutions, which should start immediately.

"We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out," he said.

Measures will be put in place to encourage agreements, as part of the idea of "hibernating" businesses until the coronavirus crisis passes.

"There is no rule book for this," Mr Morrison said.

"We are in unchartered territory, but the goal should be shared and that is a business can reopen on the other side, not weighed down by excessive debts because of rental arrears, a landlord has a tenant so that they can continue into the future to be able to support the investments that they have made and banks have clients."

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National Cabinet Statement

As part of its work on helping businesses hibernate, National Cabinet agreed that short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies. Work on this has begun, but there is more to do, including for residential tenancies. 

National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus. 

Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side. As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows:

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Source: 9News

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