PM announces new crowd restrictions in COVID-19 update
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new crowd restrictions, saying there will be a maximum limit of "four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space".
In addition to banning gatherings of 100 people or more, he said venues will now be limited to four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space in a room.
"So for example, if you've got a room, if you've got a premises, if you've got a meeting room or something like that, that's 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.
The chief medial officer says there has been "significant further growth" in coronavirus cases in Australia - and that could grow even further if Australians returning from overseas don't shut themselves away for a fortnight.
Talking alongside the PM, chief medial officer Professor Brendan Murphy was said that the 100 person limit in an indoor space would mean nothing if people were cheek by jowl in each other's faces.
Under that circumstance, even 20 people could be a hazard.
Dr Murphy added that social distancing had to be maintained, even if fewer than 100 people were in an indoor space which is the current government advice.
"What we mean is that you should be distancing yourself from every fellow Australian where possible. That's why we have guidelines for people in gatherings of less than 100," said Dr Murphy.
"It's no point having a gathering of 20 people if it's in tiny room and you're all together. You've got to practise social distancing. Keep that metre-and-a-half away from each other."
Dr Murphy said the consequences of not abiding by the rules was dire.
"We've had few deaths so far. They're tragic and we've had very few people in intensive care.
"But there is a risk that if we don't do what every one of us has to do as our civic duty to control this spread, it will grow significantly greater."
The new rule comes as the big banks unveil an $8 billion lifeline to small business by deferring loan payments, while flagging relief for residential mortgages. Bars, cafes and restaurants are bracing for more pain from new restrictions on indoor gatherings expected to be announced by the PM today.
The nation's borders will close from 9pm tonight, while Tasmania has shut itself off from the rest of the country. Yesterday, new restrictions were placed on medicine purchases, the Aussie dollar fell to a 17-year low of 55 US cents, the RBA announced an emergency rate cut and Qantas stood down 20,000 employees amid what CEO Alan Joyce described as a crisis "worse than the GFC".
Australia now has 786 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 382 in New South Wales, 150 in Victoria, 144 in Queensland, 42 in South Australia, 52 in Western Australia, 10 in Tasmania, four in the Australian Capital Territory and two in the Northern Territory.
Seven people have died - one in Western Australia and six in New South Wales - and 43 have recovered.