What to do if virus has cancelled your event
The government's ban on gatherings of 500 people or more from Monday has effectively taken an agonising decision out of the hands of event organisers.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison stressed that the order applied to non-essential gatherings only - so schools, universities, churches and parliament were exempt.
But the order effectively suspended the AFL and NRL seasons, cancelled concerts and put the kybosh on big community events such as royal shows.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Dr Brendan Murphy said the crowd figure of 500 "had some arbitrariness about it", but it was "based on the best available scientific modelling".
The decision came at the end of a week of cascading cancellations of big international events, including the SXSW and Coachella festivals in the US, as well as NBA games.
Many countries have also shut schools, universities, creches and restaurants.
In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls to ban public events, but said the idea was being considered.
"(The) scientific advice, as we've said over the last couple of weeks, is that banning such events will have little effect on the spread but there's also the issue of the burden that such events can place on public services," Mr Johnson said.
University of Melbourne epidemiologist Dr Kathryn Snow said there had been an incident in the US "in which a few people with the virus at a conference passed it on to dozens of other people".
The South Korean outbreak had also been traced back to a so-called "superspreader" who attended a religious event.
"Some people who are elderly or immunocompromised may feel that they want to be extra careful and avoid crowded events or places, which is understandable," Dr Snow said.
"Some workplaces are advising people to limit travel and to work from home, which seems wise to me personally while the situation is so uncertain. These types of 'social distancing' measures have been successful in helping some countries control the virus, and we may see broader recommendations about these types of measures in Australia in the coming weeks and months."
Infectious Disease expert Professor Robert Booy from the University of Sydney had some blunt advice for people who lived with elderly or chronic illness afflicted relatives.
"Don't go looking for the virus," he said.
Prof Booy said vulnerable people should restrict themselves to small gatherings only and people with respiratory symptoms should stay home altogether.
"Many events are cancelling anyway. If you decide to go, keep at least a metre from other fans - smile at them, but no touching or kissing," he said.
WHAT FANS CAN DO IF EVENTS ARE CANCELLED
The corporate watchdog has urged ticket buyers to approach event organisers in the first instance if their event has been cancelled.
"As a general rule we expect businesses to refund consumers if events are cancelled," a spokesman for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said.
Arrangements for ticket refunds will vary from event to event.
Patrons who purchased tickets for the latest Wiggles concert series, for example, have been asked to hang on to their tickets while they finalise details, while organisers of the Download Festival at Melbourne Showgrounds on March 20 and Sydney's The Domain on March 21 said punters would be given full refunds.
The Live Performance Australia Ticketing Code of Practice - a voluntary code of industry practice - stipulates that ticket buyers have a right to a refund if the event is cancelled, as long as they purchased their ticket from an accredited seller.
"When an event is cancelled, the member should make reasonable endeavours to advise you as soon as practicable," the code states. Credit card transactions should be automatically reversed, while punters who bought tickets with cash or vouchers "will need to apply for a refund from the point of purchase in a timely manner".
Like the ACCC, Live Performance Australia advises ticket holders to seek refunds from event organisers in the first instance, but also has a complaints officer to deal with issues that arise.
The LPA Complaints Officer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information is available at www.accc.gov.au.