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23 Mar 2020 | 07:00 AM UTC

Australia: Non-essential services suspended and public spaces close March 23 /update 15

Authorities close public spaces and suspend non-essential services March 23 amid COVID-19 pandemic; further spread of the virus likely over the coming weeks



Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a nationwide partial lockdown effective 12:00 (local time), on Monday, March 23, in efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Non-essential services will be suspended and public spaces including bars, clubs, cinemas, gyms, indoor sporting venues, and places of worship will be closed. Australians have been asked to stay at home except to go to work or buy food, medicine, and other essentials.

Supermarkets, shopping centers, office buildings, banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores are amongst the businesses allowed to remain open. Cafés and restaurants are allowed to remain open, but only for take-out and delivery services.

As of Monday, March 23, 1682 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the country, alongside seven associated fatalities and 119 recoveries. Further international spread of the virus is likely over the coming weeks.


The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.


Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.