From midday on Monday, Australia entered a new era in its history.
Widespread closure of businesses will be enforced, and people have been told to stay at home to slow the spread of coronavirus.
With constantly evolving information and advice, some people may be confused about what exactly they can and cannot do. We’ve got some answers for you.
This article is based on the latest information provided by state and federal leaders as of Monday, March 23.
What businesses can stay open?
Most businesses, including major retailers and department stores, can continue to run if they comply with social-distancing guidelines.
Under the new measures, cafes and restaurants will be able to operate, but only to offer takeaway and delivery services.
Hotels will be allowed to offer accommodation.
And the following businesses have been dubbed essential to society and will remain open:
- Petrol stations
- Convenience stores
- Freight and logistics
- Food delivery
- Bottle shops
What do businesses have to do if they stay open?
All businesses operating must meet social-distancing guidelines –keeping people 1.5 metres apart, and ensuring 4 square metres per person – and not have gatherings of more than 100 people indoors.
Businesses are encouraged to adjust work practices around these guidelines in order to keep operating, such as arrange for staff to work from home.
What businesses must close?
The Prime Minister announced on Sunday that some businesses would have to close by midday on Monday because people were gathering in some of them against social-distancing guidelines.
- Indoor places of worship
- Indoor sporting venues
What about hairdressers and other businesses that interact with customers?
Leaders have recognised the balance between keeping businesses operating and reducing the spread of the virus is difficult.
At this stage, businesses such as hairdressers and beauticians can stay open if they comply with social-distancing guidelines – as challenging as that may be.
Restaurants and cafes can continue cooking if they offer takeaway, and other businesses will need to adjust.
For example, Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner said shopping centres would remain open, but said people should not sit in food courts.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged on Sunday that more draconian restrictions may be forthcoming under “stage two”.
What about schools and childcare centres?
Schools and childcare centres remain open until the school holidays, though some jurisdictions have brought forward the end of the term.
Today, Monday March 23, will be the final day of the term for kids in Victoria.
In NSW, schools are open but parents are being told to keep their children home unless they have no other option.
Other states and territories are not as restrictive and encourage parents to keep children in school.
Governments are working on online materials to continue the curriculum if schools are shut.
Parents should seek specific information from their state or territory government.
Can I leave my house?
The Prime Minister has said people can leave their homes, but only if their travel is essential.
That might be to go to the shops, go to work or go to the pharmacy.
People may exercise, but only in isolation.
Government leaders have insisted reducing social interaction every day is imperative and it is up to Australians to make sensible decisions.
“If people simply behave as normal, if they don’t take this seriously, if they act selfishly, then people will die,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrew said.
“I can’t be any clearer than that.”