All non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people should not go ahead from Monday to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says health officers advised leaders on Friday that “non-essential, organised gatherings” should not go ahead.
“That, of course, doesn’t include schools. It doesn’t include university lectures. It doesn’t mean people getting on public transport or going to airports or things of that nature,” Morrison told reporters.
A new national cabinet made up of the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers will meet on Sunday to decide how to put in place arrangements to cope with this.
However, Morrison said he would still be attending the season-opening game of his beloved Cronulla Sharks rugby league team in Sydney on Saturday night.
The NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and Gold Coast Titans is also going ahead on Friday night.
Morrison said the advice from Monday was part of a stepped response.
“We are not of great concern right now in terms of where those gatherings might be today, but in the weeks ahead, this will change,” he said.
“The fact that I would still be going on Saturday speaks not just to my passion for my beloved Sharks, it might be the last game I get to go to for a long time. That’s fine.”
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said his advice was very much only around non-essential events.
He said the current evidence was that community transmission of the coronavirus was not widespread in Australia.
“But all international evidence suggests that if you have some community transmission, the way in which it can be spread more rapidly is in very large events,” he said.
“You might only have one or two people at a very large event who might be carrying the virus, and the chance of it being spread at those large events accelerates the rate of progression of this virus.”