In a huge move to slow the spread of coronavirus, the NSW and Victorian governments have announced plans to shut down all non-essential services across the state over the next 48 hours.
Essential services that appear to be exempt from the ruling include supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics and delivery services among others.
In a statement on Sunday afternoon, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian did not give examples of non-essential services, but previous federal government advice has cited non-essential services to include cinemas, bars, restaurants and
Despite the announcement, schools across the state will remain open on Monday, but it is unclear if they will close in the coming days as the NSW government tightens the shutdown.
Similarly, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews is pushing for schools to be shut across the state, asserting that Victoria may make a call if a nationwide agreement cannot be reached in Sunday night’s cabinet meeting. If a decision isn’t reached, Victorian schools could be shut as soon as Tuesday.
“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,” Andrews said in a statement on Sunday.
“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.”
NSW and Victoria will both push for lockdowns across their respective states in a National Cabinet meeting tonight, but it appears both Gladys Berejiklian and Dan Andrews are willing to take more extreme measures on a state-by-state basis if necessary.
Berejiklian has confirmed that NSW residents can expect an update on Monday morning “about the impacts and our plans following the National Cabinet.”
Lockdowns of COVID-19 “red zones” (like we’ve seen in Wuhan and some European countries) are not entirely off the table, and will be discussed in tonight’s meeting. If approved, authorities could have the power to restrict movement and prevent residents in these “red zones” from travelling to less infected areas.
“We had scheduled our next meeting to focus on the issue of further and stronger measures to deal with local outbreaks within state jurisdictions,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a press conference on Sunday. “We are bringing forward consideration of those matters to a meeting this evening”.
The announcement comes after NSW Health confirmed that the state’s coronavirus case tally reached 533 cases, jumping by 97 in one day. 46 of the state’s cases have been contracted without a clear source of infection.
More to come.Image: AAP / Dean Lewins