The federal government is limiting visits to aged-care facilities to short, two-person visits once a day, per resident, to protect people from coronavirus.
But anyone who has been overseas in the past two weeks, been in contact with someone who has coronavirus or has respiratory infection symptoms will be barred completely.
The changes are part of a range of measures announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Australia’s chief health officer on Wednesday.
These include warning Australians against all overseas travel and banning all non-essential indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.
Scott Morrison said visits to dying relatives would have to be arranged with individual aged-care facilities.
“We all know how distressing that can be and so the aged-care facilities will be asked to put in place sensible arrangements,” he said.
Large groups, including school groups, will also be banned from aged-care homes, as well as social or entertainment events.
Visitors will be restricted to residents’ rooms or outdoor spaces, with no meetings to be held in communal areas.
Mr Morrison stressed visitors should practice good hygiene and social distancing measures.
Aged Care and Community Services Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow said such strong measures were necessary.
“At the top of our minds is the need to balance prevention with emotional care and compassion,” Ms Sparrow said.
“We wouldn’t be taking these measures unless they were absolutely necessary, and providers will be doing everything they can to enforce them.”
Australian Services Union assistant secretary Linda White said the government was forgetting the disability sector as it rolled out measures for aged care.
“People with disability, their families and the workers who support them are incredibly worried about what will happen,” Ms White said.
She called on the government to implement coronavirus measures for the disability sector.