No draconian lockdown yet, but PM bans travel and increases social distancing

Australia joins countries worldwide struggling to convince communities to heed health warnings

Australia joins countries worldwide struggling to convince communities to heed health warnings

Exemptions to the global travel ban, which will be managed by the Australian Border Force, include "citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds".

They recommended that Australia "without delay implements national stronger social distancing measures, more extensive banning of mass gatherings, school closure or class dismissal".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged tougher rules will be imposed for social distancing after a "blatant disregard" for guidelines by the community.

Yoga, pilates and wellness centres, pools and sporting centres.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said he was very anxious about the "very, very steep growth" in the rate of infections and urged people to change their behavior.

An eighth person, a woman in her 70s, died and the number of cases rose fastest in the most populous states of New South Wales and Victoria.

Outdoor and indoor markets (excluding food markets, which are classed as an essential service) will be addressed by states and territories under their own legislation.

"That's where they need to transfer to immediately-not to go via the shops, not to pop in and see a friend on the way home, not to go for a wander around the park - you go straight home and you self-isolate for 14 days". However, boot camps and personal training can continue if limited to ten people and with appropriate social distancing measures.

From March 23 all pubs, gyms, cinemas and places of worship will all be closed.

While the Prime Minister confirmed schools will remain open, he said new education measures were being considered to keep teachers and students safe.

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"People should not congregate together in groups, inside or outside", he said.

"These are not easy decisions" but Morrison said some weddings and funerals already have been major transmitting events of COVID-19.

Schools will remain open for "essential workers", a term that was broadly defined.

Mr Morrison said the authorities would consider harsh new penalties for anyone who does not comply with a self-isolation order.

"Everyone who has one needs to be able to keep doing their job".

Numerous newly identified cases of Covid-19 came from a cruise ship whose passengers were allowed to disembark last week even though several showed signs of illness.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy told the briefing that "We are very anxious about the rate of rise in infections".

Closer to homes, Morrison did not bring in a national lockdown but advised: "Stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary that you go out".

The National Cabinet meets again tomorrow.

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