Based on the expert medical advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have agreed to provide public advice against holding non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday 16th March 2020.
A new National Cabinet, made up of the Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers has been set up and will meet at least weekly to address the country’s response to the coronavirus, COVID-19.
The AHPPC, led by the Commonwealth’s Chief Medical Officer and comprising the chief health and medical officers from each jurisdiction, together with the National Coordination Mechanism convened by the Department of Home Affairs, will be the primary bodies that will advise the National Cabinet. The National Coordination Mechanism will work across all jurisdictions, industry and key stakeholders to ensure a consistent approach to managing the impacts of this pandemic beyond immediate health issues.
The recommendation to advise against non-essential, organised public gatherings of more than 500 people is precautionary and designed to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 in Australia.
The advice from the AHPPC was that this measure will slow the increase in the number of new cases, given community transmission in Australia is increasing.
Essential services such as schools, workplaces, hospitals, public transportation, domestic travel and universities as well as public transient places such as shopping centres will not be impacted.
The National Cabinet will meet again on Sunday to finalise implementation arrangements on further advice from the AHPPC.
Management of venues and events will continue to be a matter for organisers and states and territories.
In addition, we have upgraded our Smartraveller travel advice (smartraveller.gov.au) for all Australians travelling overseas to level 3 - ‘reconsider your need for overseas travel at this time.’
Regardless of your destination, age or health, if your overseas travel is not essential, you should consider carefully whether now is the right time.
This is because the health risks from the global COVID-19 pandemic are increasing, you may be more exposed to contracting COVID-19 overseas, and overseas travel has become more complex and unpredictable.
We have not taken these decisions lightly, but based on expert health advice they are clearly in the national interest.
We continue to urge all Australians to go about their regular life and business as much as possible.
Further information about the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at www.health.gov.au.