QUEENS­LAND SCHOOLS STILL OPEN BUT MOV­ING TO ‘PUPIL FREE’

The Chronicle - - Front Page - KATINA CUR­TIS

QUEENS­LAND, South Aus­tralia and Western Aus­tralia have moved to close schools to most stu­dents, as the two largest states, NSW and Vic­to­ria, eye a full lock­down of daily life as they bat­tle to slow the spread of coro­n­avirus.

Three more deaths from coro­n­avirus were an­nounced yes­ter­day, tak­ing the na­tion’s toll to 12.

Lead­ers in Queens­land, SA and WA an­nounced yes­ter­day that school holidays would be brought for­ward, fol­low­ing the lead of Vic­to­ria and the ACT.

Teach­ers will still be at schools so par­ents who have es­sen­tial jobs, such as health­care work­ers and peo­ple who stack su­per­mar­ket shelves, can send their chil­dren.

All other stu­dents are be­ing asked to stay home.

Schools will re­turn af­ter the holidays with dis­tance ed­u­ca­tion.

Queens­land Pre­mier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk said heath ad­vice that had kept schools open so far had not changed, but the pupil-free di­rec­tive provided the right bal­ance given com­mu­nity con­cerns.

NSW schools re­main open, but Pre­mier Gla­dys Bere­jik­lian has urged par­ents to keep their chil­dren at home if pos­si­ble.

Yes­ter­day, she flagged her state was ready­ing to move into a full lock­down over the week­end, pos­si­bly ahead of Fed­eral Govern­ment ac­tion, if the sit­u­a­tion with the spread of the virus did not im­prove.

Vic­to­rian leader Daniel An­drews made sim­i­lar com­ments on Wed­nes­day.

The na­tion has al­ready had two waves of busi­ness clo­sures this week in a bid to stop peo­ple gath­er­ing in large num­bers or close spa­ces.

Ms Bere­jik­lian said the suc­cess of these mea­sures would be judged by the num­ber of com­mu­nity-to-com­mu­nity trans­mis­sions of Covid-19, rather than to­tal case num­bers.

“I’m say­ing to the com­mu­nity that if we’re not con­vinced we’ve had a sufficient amount of suc­cess, NSW will have to take fur­ther ac­tion and that’s a po­si­tion I’ve been clear on from day one,” she said.

But NSW chief health of­fi­cer Dr Kerry Chant said the full ef­fect of the sec­ond stage of shut­downs – in place from yes­ter­day – would not be known for some days.

The Fed­eral Govern­ment has been tin­ker­ing with the re­stric­tions in place to slow the spread of coro­n­avirus.

Hair­cuts can now be longer than 30 min­utes and 10-per­son funeral lim­its can be eased in cases of hard­ship.

La­bor said mak­ing changes some 48 hours af­ter the re­stric­tions were an­nounced just added to peo­ple’s con­fu­sion.

“It’s no good for the Prime Min­is­ter to blame Aus­tralians for not fol­low­ing the rules, when the rules are so com­plex and con­fus­ing,” health spokesman Chris Bowen said.

Mean­while, vis­i­tors to Tas­ma­nia have been told bluntly to go home.

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