Thousands of additional businesses will be forced to shut down or further restrict their operations from midnight on Wednesday after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced tough new lockdown measures in a bid to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beauty and personal care service firms, auction houses, outdoor and indoor markets have been added to the list of restricted firms required to close within 24 hours as the federal government continues to resist mounting pressure from health professionals to institute a full-scale lockdown of non essential services in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Speaking in Canberra late Tuesday night in the wake of a national cabinet meeting, Morrison declared shopping centres would remain open for the time being, but in an extraordinary step, he urged Australians to avoid shopping for anything but basics.
“Stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary that you go out,” Morrison said.
While all beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salon and tattoo parlour operations must close imminently, hairdressers and barber shops can continue to trade, provided customers only remain in store for 30 minutes or less.
Restaurants and cafes in food courts must also shut down all dine-in operations and begin operating on a takeaway and delivery-only basis.
Coronavirus trading restrictions: does your business have to close?
Following initial trading restrictions that came into effect on midday Monday, additional businesses and facilities included in the list below must shut down operations by 12:00am, Thursday, March 26.
Businesses not listed as prohibited activities and venues are still allowed to trade and shopping centres remain open.
The following businesses and facilities must close:
- Auction houses;
- Real estate auctions and open house inspections;
- Outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets (see exceptions below);
- Beauty therapy businesses, including tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours;
- Spa and massage parlours;
- Cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, gaming and/or gambling venues;
- Adult entertainment venues, including strip clubs, brothels and sex on premise venues;
- Concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums, stadiums (see exceptions below);
- Arcades and amusement parks;
- Indoor and outdoor play centres;
- Community and recreation centres (see exceptions below);
- Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga shops, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres;
- Bootcamps and personal training (see exceptions below);
- Social sporting-based activities and swimming pools;
- Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites;
- Libraries, community centres and youth centres;
- Community facilities, including halls, clubs, and RSL venues; and
- Places of worship.
Exceptions to the rules
- Restaurant and cafes may only open for takeaway and home delivery, including those in food courts;
- Weddings can proceed with a maximum attendance of no more than five people and social distancing;
- Funerals can be attended by no more than 10 people, who must practice social distancing;
- Outdoor and indoor market restrictions will be a decision for state and territories, but food markets will remain open;
- Hairdressers and barbershops can open, with appointments limited to 30 minutes and social distancing;
- Concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums and stadiums may live stream small groups;
- Community and recreation centres may open for hosting essential voluntary or public services like food banks;
- Bootcamps and personal training may take place outdoors with groups of no more than 10 and social distancing; and
- States and territories will decide whether to close hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks and boarding houses.
Is a full-scale retail shutdown inevitable?
Asked whether a full-scale shutdown of all retail firms was inevitable in the wake of his proclamation against most types of in-store shopping activity, Morrison said hopefully not.
“It is important for people to go to the shop,” Morrison said.
“It is important to go to the shopping centre. It is important that they get access to these normal services. It’s important for them because they need it.
“It’s also important for our economy that it continues to operate and function as much as possible.”
The Prime Minister did not go into detail about what types of retail shopping fall within the bounds of “basics”, asking Australians to instead exercise common sense.
“Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that is taking place is essential,” Morrison said.
Under the new measures unveiled by federal and state governments on Tuesday most retail businesses will still be able to trade, including clothing and accessories stores, recreational activity retailers and other types of firms selling discretionary goods.
Businesses that remain open are still required to adhere to social distancing measures outlined by the federal government last week, and have been asked to put up signs within their stores outlining the maximum number of patrons that can be inside at any given time.
Federal, state and territory governments will consider further strengthening trading restrictions on the basis of medical advice, Morrison said.
“What we will do is put these measures in place and should the information change and the advice change, then we should contemplate at that time,” he said.
“But I do note in a lot of the commentary in both in the public and others, that there seems to be a great wish to go to that point [a full shutdown].
“Well, be careful what you wish for on something like that. Be very careful because that will need to be sustained for a very long time …
“That could have a very significant and even more onerous impact on life in Australia and we should seek to try and avoid that where it is possible.
“But if it is necessary for health reasons, ultimately, well those decisions will be taken in time,” Morrison added.
The tougher restrictions come as pressure mounts on the federal government to institute a full-scale lock down, similar to the type already in place in New Zealand and the UK. A petition signed by more than 5,000 doctors continues to circulate online, urging the Morrison Government to take more stringent measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.