PM says gatherings of more than 500 to be cancelled; travel not encouraged

Prime Minister Scott Morrisson, along with state and territory leaders, have agreed that non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people ought to be cancelled and/or postponed from Monday as a result of fears of Coronavirus and its spreading.

The directive came after Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy, told leaders at a COAG meeting earlier in the week that more stringent precautions needed to be made to help settle the virus pandemic.

Already cancelled are a Run4Kids charity event in Victoria, the Melbourne Fashion Festival, RTRFM’s Neon Picnic and In The Pines, Gippsland Bushfire Concert, Download Music Festival and various concert tours.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the directive does not apply to schools, universities, public transport hubs, or airports.

“It is precautionary,” said Morrisson. “It is getting ahead of this to ensure that we can minimise the impact on [our] health and [so] we can ensure with confidence the ability for people to be accessing the health services they and their families will need.”

PM Morrisson also advised Australians against travelling overseas unless it is absolutely essential.

“If your travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time. We advise all Australians to reconsider your need to travel overseas at this time, regardless of your destination, age or health,” he said.

Already cancelled is the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Melbourne, and spectators for cricket games have been banned from attending live matches. Discussions are also taking place as to whether NRL, soccer and AFL matches ought to be played or postponed.

“This is a proportionate early response to get ahead of the curve,” said Brendan Murphy, adding the obvious fact that “international evidence suggests if you have some community transmission, the way in which Coronovirus can be spread more rapidly is in very large events.”

Antonino Tati

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