Scott Morrison calls for ban on public gatherings of more than 500 people

The proposed ban will be enacted from Monday

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for a ban on all non-essential public gatherings over 500 people from Monday (March 16) to inhibit the spread of the coronavirus, following advice from the Australian Health Protection Principals Committee.

Morrison announced the move at a press conference following a Council for Australian Governments meeting in Sydney today with chief ministers, premiers and himself (March 13), the ABC reports.

“Based on the advice we have received today about the increasing number of cases on the evidence of community transition, it has been recommended to us that we moved to a position by Monday where we will be advising against organised non-essential gatherings of persons of 500 people or greater,” Morrison said.

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It is unclear how long the public gatherings ban will be enforced. NME Australia has reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office for further clarification and will update this story if and when it receives a response.

NME Australia has also reached out to representatives from Splendour in the Grass and Groovin The Moo festivals on their response to the public gatherings ban and will update this story if and when it receives a response.

The news comes as Download Festival, Dark Mofo, the Australian Grand Prix, Miley Cyrus and Pixies tours have all cancelled or postponed this week due to coronavirus fears.

Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke said in a press statement that “the Government needs a plan for the arts sector and we need to hear what it is – urgently”.

“Australia’s arts sector was already fragile … due to the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government’s cuts and neglect. Now with live performance ticket sales dropping and the list of cancelled events growing rapidly, the sector could be brought to the brink over coming months.”

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Earlier today, Live Performance Australia issued a similar appeal to the federal government, calling for an “urgent stimulus response” to protect the live music industry.

“We’re already seeing cancellation of events and touring programs across the country. We expect this to get worse with industry losing hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs,” LPA president Evelyn Richardson said.

Richardson asked the government to consider a social security payment system similar to Farm Relief, because of the high level of casual employment in the music industry.

“Many of our companies are vulnerable and within both the commercial and subsidised sectors, there are companies that will not have the balance sheet strength to withstand the combined impacts of box office failure and contract obligations, and some larger event cancellations may cause irreparable damage,” she said.

Read LPA’s full statement here.

NME Australia will update this story.

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