Australia is shutting down non-essential services as coronavirus cases rise rapidly in the country. Pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, and places of worship will be shut from midday on Monday, while restaurants and cafes will have to switch to takeaway only.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the restrictions after a national cabinet meeting.
The number of cases in Australia has risen sharply in recent days, reaching 1,315.
New South Wales (NSW), home to Sydney, is the worst-affected state with 533 confirmed cases. Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, has 296 cases, while Queensland has 259.
The new restrictions will see many businesses close but supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, and home delivery services will continue running.
The prime minister said he wanted to keep schools open but parents would be able to keep their children at home if they wished to do so.
“I don’t want to see our children lose an entire year of their education,” he said.
Some states, including Victoria, have signalled that they want to close schools.
Seven people have died across Australia so far from Covid-19.
The new measures come after large crowds gathered on Sydney’s beaches including Bondi on Saturday, flouting social distancing advice.
Mr. Morrison said that the federal and state governments had decided to act because Australians were not obeying guidelines.
But he added: “We are not putting in place lockdowns that put people in and confine them to their homes.
“That is not a measure that has been contemplated at this point.”
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said people, especially the young, had to realise that they needed to live “very differently” and stop going out in order to control the virus.