Australia’s state governments are upping the ante as it grapples with the coronavirus crisis.
On Sunday, both the New South Wales and Victorian governments revealed they would begin shutting down a strew government services.
“Tonight I will be informing the national cabinet that NSW will proceed to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services. This will take place over the next 48 hours,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement, noting the exact details of the shutdown would be revealed this week.
“Supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, and home delivery will be among the many services that will remain open.”
While schools around the state would remain open on Monday, Berejiklian said she “will have more to say on this issue in the morning”, foreshadowing a possible shutdown mid-week.
“I will update NSW tomorrow morning about the impacts and our plans following the national cabinet,” she said.
South of the border, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced an almost identical stance, announcing his government would lead a coordinated two-day shutdown of its own “to combat the spread of coronavirus”.
“This is not something I do lightly but it’s clear that if we don’t take this step, more Victorians will contract coronavirus, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and more Victorians will die,” Andrews said in a separate statement.
All the same essential services including banks will all remain open, he said, while schools will shut across the state from Tuesday.
“I will also inform the National Cabinet that school holidays will be brought forward In Victoria, starting on Tuesday 24 March, he said.
“The decision whether to reopen schools after the Term 1 holidays will likewise be determined following advice from the [Victorian] Chief Medical Officer.”
It comes as states around the country opt for unilateral action. On Sunday, South Australia joining Tasmania and the Northern Territory in requesting anyone entering the state to self-isolate for 14 days, as well as asking visitors to inform police of where they intend to be throughout their stay.
The Federal Government has so far rejected any suggestion of a national lockdown, as has been implemented in countries like France, Italy and Spain.
Instead, it has restricted outdoor gatherings to a maximum of 500 people, and last week limited indoor venues to one person per four square metres.
As some states stepped up to announce their own lockdowns on Sunday, the Federal Government announced a second economic stimulus package worth $66 billion, containing support for businesses, pensioners, and the unemployed.
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