Australian Government Calls for Stop to All Non-Essential Travel

By AAP

All non-essential travel within Australia should be cancelled to tackle the spread of COVID-19, the prime minister has announced.

Federal and state leaders are also having to now consider “more draconian measures” to enforce social distancing, after masses of people gathering at Bondi Beach showed that too many Australians aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously enough.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders agreed to the recommendation barring non-essential travel overnight.

Essential travel will include travel that facilitates essential work-related activities and some travel on compassionate grounds.

“Also when it comes to essential supplies and activities, movements of health workers and other important arrangements that are needed to keep Australia running,” Morrison told reporters on Sunday.

Morrison said the step means people who had interstate trips planned for the upcoming school holidays should cancel them.

But even within states, people should scrap travel which isn’t part of their standard routine, Morrison said.

“Australians can exercise their common sense about the things they know are non-essential,” he said.

Federal and state leaders will meet again on Sunday evening to discuss stronger measures to deal with local outbreaks.

The discussion comes after vision emerged in recent of crowds of people at Bondi Beach, ignoring social distancing advice.

“What happened at Bondi Beach yesterday was not okay, and served as a message to federal and state leaders that too many Australians are not taking these issues seriously enough,” Morrison said.

“The measures we will be considering tonight, means that state premiers and chief ministers, may have to take far more draconian measures, to enforce social distancing, particularly in areas of outbreaks, than might otherwise be the case.”

Australia beach
People are seen walking towards tape cordoning off Maroubra Beach as all of Sydney’s eastern suburbs beaches are closed in Sydney, Australia, on March 22, 2020. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)

He stressed Australians can all help protect people’s lives and livelihoods.

“It’s a simple plea: we need you,” he said.

“We need you to do your bit, when it comes to social distancing, to keeping that healthy distance, to respecting and following the rules that we’re setting down.

“But more stronger measures will be coming, and they will be coming in more localised areas to deal with outbreaks.”