The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the world, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today recommending the cessation of “non-essential travel” throughout Australia.
Throughout the last week, the response from the state and federal governments in regards to COVID-19 have been swift, far-reaching, and frequently criticised from Australians across the country.
While national borders have been closed, Tasmania has effectively quarantined itself, while “non-essential” gatherings of over 100 people had been banned throughout the week (effectively grinding the local music industry to a halt) the latest announcement of restrictions have continued to cause chaos.
Speaking to the country in a press conference earlier today, Morrison announced that all upcoming long-distance or domestic travel should be cancelled if it is deemed “non-essential”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is recommending all Australians cancel non-essential travel to contain the spread of COVID-19. @CUhlmann #9News pic.twitter.com/53FI3Y4ezA
— Nine News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) March 22, 2020
“Going to the shops is something you have to do, get into work, other important tasks you have on a daily basis you have to do but I think Australians can exercise their common sense about things they know are not essential, and this is again the point I am making to people,” he explained.
“We have to think about making sensible decisions for ourselves and our families and also decisions we are taking and its impact on other Australians. So it does mean that those holidays that you may have been planning to take interstate over the school holidays are cancelled. That is what it means.”
However, domestic travel bans have been ramped up even further in South Australia and Western Australia, with SA Premier Steven Marshall revealing that the states’ borders have now been closed to domestic travel, meaning anyone coming into SA will be forced to undergo 14 days of self-isolation.
Meanwhile, while Bondi Beach has found itself closed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread, New South Wales and Victoria have also found themselves pushing for more bans to take effect, including that of schools.
While both states are have noted ban on all non-essential activities (that is, recreational activities such as visiting restaurants or cafés) will take place within 48 hours, Victoria has announced its plans to break from the pack and issue its own bans if a consensus between states does not occur.
Statement on Victoria's response to Coronavirus: pic.twitter.com/YF4yFsE4Si
— Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) March 22, 2020
“This is not something that we 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,” explained Premier Daniel Andrews in a statement.
“Victorians will still be able to go to the supermarket, the bank, the pharmacy and other essential stores, like petrol stations and convenience stores. Freight, logistics and home delivery are also considered essential and will remain open. I will also inform National Cabinet that school holidays will be brought forward in Victoria, starting on Tuesday 24 March.”
Additionally, the press conference from PM Scott Morrison earlier today also brought with it the revelation that the JobSeeker Payment has been increased by almost double for the next six months, with individuals able to receive a rate of $1,115.70 per fortnight.
Though it remains to be seen whether or not the effects of this latter announcement – which has been sought after for a very long time – will remain after the six-month time frame, it’s undoubtedly a massive help to those who rely on these payments at the current time.