An ‘unstoppable avalanche’ of coronavirus cases around the world are changing the way people interact, work, entertain themselves and travel – even pray.
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the nation on Friday and banned mass gatherings of more than 500 people following the advice of Australian Health Protection Principals Committee (AHPPC) earlier in the day. The ban will be implemented on Monday.
The AHPPC will be the principal advisory body to the new national cabinet. Mr Morrison said that he would convene a national cabinet to deal with the issue. Mr Morrison said that people could still continue going to their work and education, and said that the “economic impact” of the coronavirus crisis will be significant and stimulus measures already in place to offset the crisis.
“There is every reason for people to carry on with their usual business,” he said, adding this is a “further common sense precaution to ensure we can manage the transmission of the virus”.
Ahead of Easter, Mr Morrison said that church arrangements will need to be made by individual churches and suggested multiple services. “I have no doubt that they will honour the advice given to them,” Mr Morrison said.
The tourism industry, already hard-hit since the start of the coronavirus, did not receive any favours during Mr Morrison’s address.
“Australians should reconsider any plans that they have to travel overseas, for non-essential travel,” he said, adding that this would apply for travel to any destination.
“Regardless of your destination, age or health — if your travel is not essential, consider carefully whether now is the right time. So we are effectively putting in place what is called a Level Three Travel Advice for travel of Australians overseas. This is done to protect their health and to limit their exposure, given we have so many countries now that are affected by the coronavirus,” he said.
Mr Morrison’s address follows a shock announcement by US President Donald Trump that the US would suspend travel from 26 European countries, including Greece, as a precautionary measure to help halt the spread of novel coronavirus sparked rumours for more global restrictions for travellers.
The US ban applies to 26 countries in the Schengen Area, with UK and Ireland not included in the ban despite there being COVID-19 cases in both countries. Following his address, President Trump added that the ban applies to non-US citizens and exemptions would be made for “Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings”.