As the Federal Government ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, tight new restrictions on domestic travel have been announced.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said all non-essential travel within Australia should be cancelled to help stop the spread of the illness which leads to COVID-19.
“What we are saying is non-essential travel should be avoided and particularly when we’re talking about interstate travel and longer distances, the sort of travel that would not be normally part of your normal life,” Mr Morrison told reporters this afternoon.
Mr Morrison said while he understood cancelling travel plans will be disappointing to families who have booked and paid for interstate school holiday trips, stemming the spread of the virus is top priority.
“We will give you as many rules as we can and as many guidelines but we need you to think carefully about what you are doing and your behaviour and the impact it has on others.
“So it does mean that those holidays that you may have been planning to take interstate over the school holidays, cancel them.
“That is what it means. It is regrettable and I know the impact it will have on many people in those communities where those holidays were going to take place.”
Mr Morrison said he wanted to clarify the domestic travel ban wasn’t designed to prevent people from going about daily activities like work.
“Going to the shops is something you have to do, get into work, other important tasks you have daily you have to do,” he said.
“I think Australians can exercise their common sense about things they know are not essential.
The prime minister said the “decisions are not taken lightly” while simultaneously addressing concerns the Federal Government wasn’t taking more extreme measures.
“These decisions are not taken lightly and for those who are arguing for extreme measures all over the country, we would only take further measures based on medical advice because, at the same time that we are trying to protect lives, we are also trying to protect the livelihoods of Australians and that means acting on medical advice and ensuring that we remain totally in step with the incremental changes we’re regrettably enforcing.
“It is the case that travel needs to be reduced to stop the spread of the virus across the country. Other states will be making other decisions about this issue and they will make further announcements today and I will leave them to make them.”