Self isolation announcement in Australia and New Zealand, European stores close

After US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that as of midnight Sunday "everyone" entering the country would need to be in self-isolation for 14 days.

On Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison followed New Zealand's lead with new self-isolation measures of two weeks for anyone entering Australia from overseas. This was preceeded by an information advertising blitz with the slogan "Help stop the spread and stay healthy".

The self-isolation requirement was effective from midnight last night.

"Further, the Australian government will also ban cruise ships from foreign ports from arriving at Australian ports after an initial 30 days and that will go forward on a voluntary basis," the PM said.

He added bespoke arrangements would be put in place under the command of the Australian Border Force to ensure that the relevant protections are put in place.

"We're seeking to assist Australians to come home by ensuring that the flights continue to run, but when they come home, they'll be spending another 14 days in self isolation," he said.

Morrison said bans have been very effective to date in countries that are having issues with the virus.

"We know that the virus cannot be absolutely stopped. Of course not. No one can do that. But we can slow the spread and we anticipate that will be what our task will be over about the next six months," the PM said.

"We're going to have to get used to some more changes in the way we live our lives over the next six months or so - there will be further intrusions.

"There will be further restrictions on people's movement and their behaviour. But the point is, you do it in a timely way. You do it in a managed way. You do it in a careful way."

Regarding the ban on mass gatherings of 500 people or more, the Prime Minister said this referred to "static" gatherings and not train stations, shopping centres or even "markets like Salamanca down in Hobart or things of that nature".

There are now 313 recorded cases of Covid-19 in Australia, of which almost half are in NSW, and Queensland has recorded its first death from the virus - a 77-year-old woman from Noosaville.

Emergency declarations have been declared in WA, the ACT and Victoria.


The amount of cases has surged in Europe, especially in Italy which saw a one-day record of 368 deaths on Sunday. France and Spain have ramped up their actions to stop the spread of the virus with the closure of cafes, restaurants, cinemas and some other public places. 

Popular Sydney music and arts festival Vivid has cancelled its 2020 edition because of coronavirus conerns.

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres says the decision, while disappointing, was the right thing to do in order to control the spread of infection.

"Vivid Sydney is a bright star of Sydney's event calendar so the decision to cancel was not taken lightly," says Minister Ayres.

"As the event owner, we must follow the advice of health officials to ensure the health and safety of our citizens and everyone involved with Vivid Sydney."

"We are currently working through the full implications of the cancellation and will provide further information and advice as soon as it's available."

Updated at 9:57am AEDT on 16 March 2020.

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