The government will ban all ‘organised, non-essential gatherings’ of more than 500 people in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus responsible for the global pandemic of COVID-19.
The prohibition was announced at a press conference this afternoon, following an earlier announcement by Australia’s chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, advising the banning of such gatherings. It will not, however, include schools or universities, which unlike other countries currently dealing with the spread of COVID-19, will remain open. Modes of public transport, including airplanes, will also be exempt.
The prime minister Scott Morrison also advised all Australians to refrain from non-essential overseas travel, adding that the government would be raising the level of travel advice for all countries, regardless of a traveller's intended destination, age or health status.
Several major events had already been cancelled, including Dark Mofo in Hobart, one of Tasmania’s most important tourism drivers, and the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, that had been due to take place in Melbourne this weekend. Spectators had also been banned from major cricket games. NRL, AFL and soccer games are likely to face similar measures.