- Australia will ban non-essential gatherings of 500 people or more, in an effort to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
- It does not include gatherings deemed essential, including people going to school, university lectures, airports, and using public transport.
- The advice to ban gatherings came from Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, speaking on behalf of the top medical officers of Australia’s states and territories.
- Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.
The Australian government has announced mass gatherings of over 500 people will be effectively banned as of next week, as authorities attempt to slow the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Speaking at a press conference following a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, “We will be advising against organised, non-essential gatherings of people of 500 or more.”
The ban does not apply to gatherings deemed essential, such as people visiting schools, university lectures, airports, and using public transport.
“Parliament is essential,” Morrison said. “Going to school is essential. Going to work is essential. Going and getting about your normal business, going to university lectures, and taking your kids to preschool, these things will continue.”
The ban will likely affect a number of concerts, festivals and sports events booked over the coming weeks and months – including the ongoing NRL and AFL seasons.
Justifying the move, Morrison said there was “growing evidence” of community transmission of the virus within Australia, unconnected to people who had been infected while overseas.
“There was growing evidence, as we were receiving, particularly over the course of the day, of greater community transmission of the coronavirus throughout Australia,” he said.
“We will be meeting again on Sunday to consider that further advice on the implementation of those arrangements, and we will provide further advice at that point once those recommendations have been considered.”
The advice to ban gatherings came from Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, who spoke on behalf of the chief medical authorities of Australia’s states and territories.
Morrison also advised Australians should reconsider all overseas travel, though no explicit ban has been put in place.
The news came after the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute, following the confirmation that a member of the McLaren racing team was confirmed to have COVID-19.
One event not affected by the ban, which begins next week, is the NRL this weekend. Morrison said he still intended to attend the Cronulla Sharks game on Saturday, despite the looming ban.
“It might be the last game I get to go to for a long time,” he said.