State of emergency declared in Victoria, ACT as cases soar
A state of emergency has been declared in Victoria to deal with the spread of coronavirus and enforce the national 14-day isolation sanction for all travellers into Australia.
Minutes later on Monday, the same was signalled for the ACT.
A public health emergency was announced yesterday in South Australia.
From midday today, for at least four weeks, authorised officers can detain people, restrict movement and prevent entry to premises to protect the public.
"It is an offence under the public health and well being act to not comply with the orders that have been made," Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters today.
"Those orders in the first instance relate to that mandatory - not optional in any way - mandatory home quarantine or at a hotel if you are not a resident."
The self-isolation sanction of all travellers coming into Australia was declared by Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday.
Non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people such as cultural and sporting events and conferences, are also banned in Victoria.
Institutions such as the National Gallery of Victoria, State Library, and museums are temporarily closed, while the Melbourne Comedy Festival and Food and Wine Festival have already been postponed.
But exclusions to the mass gathering ban include schools, airports, public transport, health services, emergency services, aged care, prisons, parliament, markets and building sites.
"This is about flattening the curve," Mr Andrews said.
Victoria's coronavirus tally now sits at 71 after 14 new cases were confirmed overnight.
Mr Andrews said while it was sensible for people to stock up on one or two extra staples when doing their regular food shopping, it was not appropriate to buy weeks and months' worth of supplies.
"All that means is those who are vulnerable, people who can't go to four different supermarkets to get what they need will miss out," Mr Andrews said. "We have got care packages, we will get those to you in the event that you run out of those basics." Mr Morrison said while a state of emergency was declared, it did not mean it was a "state of panic".
"Words like state of emergency, I can understand they're anxious types of phrases," he told Nine on Monday.
"What they're simply doing is giving the state governments the powers and authorities to help protect you, public health and slow the spread of the virus."
These are challenging times & its vital we all pull together & do what’s necessary to #FlattenTheCurve. This means Victorians returning home from overseas will face 14-day self-isolation. I thank them in advance but this is necessary to help stop the spread of #COVID-19 . (1/2)— Jenny Mikakos MP (@JennyMikakos) March 15, 2020
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr also confirmed a state of emergency will be declared today.
Mr Barr told the ABC the territory's health minister will sign off on the declaration on Monday morning after Victoria announced a state of emergency.
A second case of the coronavirus was confirmed in the ACT after a positive test result overnight.
"The individual is a male in his 30s and is currently well. He is working closely with ACT Health and following the strict home isolation advice," the health department said today.
Yesterday, Premier Steven Marshall declared a "public health emergency" in South Australia.
"I know that people probably feel anxious, these are uncharted waters for our nation," he said.