Millions of Australians in NSW, Victoria and Canberra will soon be locked down and urged not to leave their houses unless going to the supermarket for food in the toughest measures yet to stop the coronavirus.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed the state will have to “go further” unless the spread of the disease slows.
The ACT has confirmed it will follow suit.
“I just want everyone to be prepared for that, not to be overly concerned or panicked, but just to know that the NSW government will go further if we have to, because it’s in the interests of public safety,” Ms Berejiklian said.
From Thursday, NSW supermarkets and pharmacists are allowed to trade 24-7 as political leaders consider asking other retailers to shut down – a move that would force thousands of more workers into unemployment queues.
NSW has also released new “heat maps” revealing hotspots for infections across the state.
“Just because your community is not on the heat map we’re putting up in terms of the number of cases, please don’t assume that you might not have people walking around in your community who are suspected of having it or should be in isolation,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Stricter measures are likely to include closing retailers and hairdressers, who won a reprieve on the Prime Minister’s ’30-minute haircut’ edict on Thursday morning.
Hairdressers said the rules were unworkable and the Morrison government lifted them.
But the win could be short-lived as states consider tougher lockdowns in the regions hardest hit by the virus.
Victoria announced on Thursday that two men in their 70s had died from the coronavirus in Melbourne, taking the national death toll to 11.
The number of COVID-19 cases in NSW has reached 1219, but in some good news, the rate of new infections is lower. There are 12 patients in intensive care.
Labor’s health spokesman Chris Bowen backed tougher action.
“We have to be honest with people – what’s been put in place so far is not working, we need to do more,” Mr Bowen said.
“Stronger measures are necessary and we certainly think that they’re urgent, and also clearer measures. Frankly, the measures announced by the Prime Minister … were confusing.”