State and federal governments enforce two-person limit on gatherings

Gatherings were previously capped at 10 people

The federal government has advised Australians to limit themselves to gatherings of two in the latest effort to decrease the spread of the coronavirus.

In a press conference on March 29, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the previously announced limit of 10 people had been reduced once more after meeting with the national cabinet. As the ABC reports, the restrictions apply for both indoor and outdoor gatherings, including private properties.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said that while Australians do seem to be adapting to the new rules, additional measures still need to be taken to slow the spread.

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“The vast majority of Australians have done the right thing in the last week,” Murphy said. “We have seen huge evidence of that, but we have also seen some very silly behaviour of people who haven’t complied with that, particularly outdoors.”

Though the new measures aren’t legally binding, many states will be enforcing them in a variety of ways. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told media on March 30 that a $1,600 on-the-spot fine will be given out by police to anyone found to be breaching the new restrictions. Meanwhile, in South Australia, the fine will be $1,000. In Tasmania, you will be able to be arrested and issued a summons. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian also said the state is looking to enforce these limits. The new restrictions come into place midnight on March 30.

“I’ve heard people say the [rules] are very, very complex, this is what I’d say: there are many complex things in the world, this is not one of them. Stay at home,” Andrews said.

A number of other new measures were announced as well, including the closure of skate parks, public playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and a moratorium on commercial and residential rental evictions.

However, there are some exceptions to the new gathering restrictions, such as when someone is at a workplace or school. The limit also doesn’t apply to members of the same household. As the ABC explains, “your family of four, provided you all live under the one roof, can take the dog for a walk”. Weddings are still capped at five people and funerals are still capped at 10.

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