Australia’s two most populous states are preparing for an unprecedented shutdown of all non-essential services within the next 48 hours, in a bid to slow the rapid spread of coronavirus.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is yet to say if the closure of schools is contained within her “more comprehensive” measures.
“Tonight I will be informing the national cabinet that NSW will proceed to a more comprehensive shutdown of non-essential services,” Ms Berejiklian said in a statement.
“This will take place over the next 48 hours,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Shortly after the historic declaration, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews followed suit and announced his state would also shutdown within the coming days.
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Both states will thrash out details of the closures at a meeting of the national cabinet to be held tonight.
WHAT IS ESSENTIAL?
The exact details of the shutdowns in NSW and Victoria are yet to be confirmed, but Ms Berejiklian gave several examples of what her government considers ‘essential’.
“Supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics, and home delivery will be among the many services that will remain open,” she said.
It’s not clear how broad the definition of ‘home delivery’ will be.
Public transport services are expected to continue to operate although some service disruptions could occur. Additional hygiene control measures have already been implemented.
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WHAT WILL CLOSE?
When asked for examples of what’s deemed ‘non-essential’, a spokesperson for Ms Berejiklian’s office didn’t give specifics.
They did point us to the ‘London model’ of lockdown though.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced nationwide lockdown measures on Friday, telling cafes, bars and restaurants to close.
“We are collectively telling cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow,” Mr Johnson said.
He said takeaway services for these businesses would be able to continue.
“We are also telling nightclubs, theatres, cinemas, gyms and leisure centres to close on the same timescale.”
In Victoria, tough shutdown measures will extend to restaurants, bars, cafes, pubs and retail stores. It’s not known how long the shutdowns are expected to be in place.
Ms Berejiklian’s office said she would provide a full update on the extent of the measures tomorrow morning.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR BUSINESSES?
Meanwhile, many businesses have taken matters into their own hands, with some restaurants shutting down indefinitely.
A number are operating on a takeaway and delivery basis only.
Others, such as McDonald’s, have banned in-store dining to help promote social distance policies.
Target confirmed to news.com.au today that they will shut all their stores from tomorrow until the coronavirus panic subsides.