Chief Minister Andrew Barr has labelled anybody considering heading to the South Coast as ”extraordinarily selfish” in the current health emergency, even if they have a holiday home there.
He urged Canberrans to stay home, saying the risk of spreading the virus was too great, the small coastal communities did not have the capacity to support thousands of visitors and there was no welcome mat out.
“We have heard very clearly from local mayors and local members that people really shouldn’t do that,” he said at a press conference this afternoon at which he announced the ACT had suffered its first coronavirus death.
”There are no ICU beds in South Coast hospitals. These communities do not need extra people shopping in their supermarkets.
“Stay in Canberra. That’s the best thing you can do for the South Coast community and your own community.”
While he said there was no legal way to stop people who owned property on the coast travelling there, the ”incredibly strong guidance” was to think twice about it.
“Why would you do that in light of what’s happening in this country and around the world?” he asked.
“It just strikes me as extraordinarily selfish, and if you can stay in Canberra safely you should avoid unnecessary travel.”
There were always exceptions ”but the idea you go down there for a holiday now really is selfish”.
Mr Barr also announced further closures of public spaces in the ACT in response to the greater restrictions announced last night by the Prime Minister.
From midday today all playgrounds, outdoor fitness stations, barbecues, the Tidbinbilla and Namadgi Visitor Information Centres, camping grounds, cottages in parks and reserves are closed. All bookings will be refunded.
Namadgi National Park is also closed.
But Mr Barr said some people continued to congregate, and with each wave of closures people tended to flock to what remained open and ignore the broader message.
“It’s people who move the virus,” he said. “Is my trip outside my home potentially going to infect me or someone else? That’s a very good starting point.”
Mr Barr also affirmed that a package of legislation will go before the Legislative Assembly on Thursday to address a variety of COVID-19 responses including commercial and residential tenancies.
He said National Cabinet had approved a series of guiding principles for the states and territories to follow that would stop evictions, put businesses into hibernation and provide tax incentives for landlords to come to amicable terms with their tenants.
“We’re looking for a sharing of the burden across government, banks, landlords and tenants, working together to reach outcomes that will enable businesses to go into hibernation during this period,” Mr Barr said.
It is expected that tomorrow the government will announce a smaller stimulus package, which will involve ACT Government tenants.
He also flagged significant further announcements from the federal and ACT governments on these and other economic survival measures.
He said further non-essential retail closures were also on National Cabinet’s agenda.
Mr Barr said the ACT Government was focused on supporting vulnerable households so they could access essentials, working with Foodbank, OzHarvest and the Canberra Relief Network.
He welcomed a direction from the Australian Public Service Commission that Australian Government public servants work from home, where possible, a topic he said he had raised in National Cabinet many times.
“If people still experience problems raise them with your manager, your union and, ultimately, with me, and I will hand those on,” he said.