Australia may keep coronavirus restrictions for a year, schools may work on roster
by ReutersFriday, 17 April 2020 00:48 GMT
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By Byron Kaye
SYDNEY, April 17 (Reuters) – Australian public life could be constrained for another year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned on Friday, as the country’s most populous state mulled sending children to school in shifts.
Australia has so far avoided the high numbers of coronavirus casualties reported around the world after closing its borders and imposing strict “social distancing” measures for the past month.
Restaurants, bars and other “non-essential” businesses have closed and public gatherings of more than two people are banned under the threat of fines and even prison, measures that are expected to double the unemployment rate by mid-year.
In response, the daily growth rate of reported new infections has steadied in the low percentage single digits, from about 25% several weeks ago, for a total of about 6,500 infections, including 63 deaths.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said some measures, like the rule requiring people to stand at least 1.5 metres apart, would likely remain for several months, given there was no guarantee a vaccine would be developed in that time.
“Social distancing is something we should get very used to,” Morrison told radio station 3AW. “It could be a year, but I’m not speculating about that.”
“Certainly while the virus is prevalent across the world (the 1.5 metre rule) should be a natural instinct.”
Morrison had said o