ACT Chief Minister Statement: Canberrans must stay at home unless essential

Following decisions made at National Cabinet this evening, the ACT will implement tougher restrictions to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the Territory.

These stronger measures have been agreed upon by National Cabinet because if we don’t act now to further flatten the curve, the advice we have is that our healthcare system will be overwhelmed.

Critical work to increase capacity in the ACT’s hospitals is continuing, but there will not be enough doctors, nurses, or medical equipment to help everyone if the spread of the virus increases exponentially.

To help slow the spread, we are requiring Canberrans to only leave their homes for the following reasons:

  • shopping for what you need – food and necessary supplies
  • medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements
  • exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
  • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely

The further limits on public gatherings to just two people will be difficult, but have been introduced to limit the spread of the virus. ACT Authorities will be making people aware of the new requirements and issuing warnings in the first instance. The ACT, along with the other States and Territories, will be moving to implement stronger enforcement measures in the near future (such as fines) to ensure consistency across jurisdictions.

For Canberrans aged 70 and over, staying at home, as much as possible, is the best way to reduce infection risk. It is the best advice we can provide to avoid the more serious consequences from the virus. However, this does not mean that over 70s cannot leave their homes. They should exercise caution though, and avoid crowds, and maintain physical distancing wherever possible.

Over time, we understand that this will require a greater coordination of community support networks. The ACT Government, and our community sector partners, will be developing additional ways that we can support elderly Canberrans.

Playgrounds, skateparks, outdoor fitness stations and outdoor BBQs across the Territory will be closed in the coming days as a result of decisions made at the National Cabinet.

The ACT will also be joining other state and territory governments to implement a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for the non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. This measure will ensure that Canberrans who are renting (residential or commercial) and can’t pay their rent because of COVID-19, will not be evicted for six months.

Landlords are asked to work with any affected tenants to provide rent relief through temporary amendments to leases. The financial cost of these temporary measures will be shared between governments, banks, landlords and tenants.

The ACT and Commonwealth Governments will be forgoing significant tax revenue to make this temporary arrangement work.

However, landlords who receive Federal and Territory Government tax relief will be expected to pass this through to tenants suffering financial stress. The tax reductions will only be available for those who participate.

Further discussions will continue with the property sector on further mechanisms the ACT and Federal Governments can provide to assist this process.

The Federal Government is expected to announce further stimulus measures early this week. The ACT Government will finalise our second package of economic survival measures following the Commonwealth’s announcement to ensure complementary support is provided to those that need it.

/Public Release. View in full here.