Australia is set to endure six months of restrictions on citizens’ everyday lives unseen since the end of the Second World War, at the country hunkers down to battle the coronavirus.
It comes as health officials announced another elderly man has died from the deadly respiratory infection, taking the national toll to six.
Australians were warned to expect at least six months of disruption, with mass gatherings banned and families urged to stay away from the elderly.
As Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke to the nation and introduced a wave of new measures, workers were already avoiding the country’s gyms and train stations.
Gyms in Sydney’s CBD stood empty on Wedneday (pictured) and are usually bustling at lunchtime. Thousands of workers are already staying at home, with more likely to follow
Usually bustling with excited families, Dreamworld on the Gold Coast looked like a ghost town on Tuesday (pictured)
Pictures showed usually busy gyms with no customers on Wednesday lunchtime, with even theme parks across the Gold Coast sitting empty.
At St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, staff were seen holding clickers to count visitors as they went in – ensuring no more than 100 people were in the place of worship.
Tourists were turned away, while people hoping to attend mass were counted at the door.
‘We’re asking people to spread out because of the coronavirus,’ a worker at the church said.
‘Because of the new laws we can only have 100 people inside, including the clergy and staff.’
St Marys Cathedral in Sydney (pictured, right) is having to turn away tourists to ensure worshipers can attend. Staff are even counting the number of patrons (left)
Newly-made signs at St Marys Catherdral warn visitors on Wednesday that only 100 people – including staff, ministers and clergy, can enter (pictured)
Health officials have said that ‘social distancing’ is the best way to fight the killer virus, which originated in food markets in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
With 556 people already infected with the disease in Australia, and the number likely to grow, Mr Morrison has advised against all overseas travel
He also banned gatherings of more than 100 people as the country battles the coronavirus outbreak – warning the drastic restrictions were in place for ‘the long haul’.
In a speech on Wednesday morning, Mr Morrison warned Australia ‘won’t look like it normally does’ for the next six months.
‘We are looking at a situation of at least six months for how we deal with this. It could be much longer than that,’ he said.
The usually busy Flinders Street train station in Melbourne (pictured on Wednesday) has also seen a huge decline in passengers
Empty tables are seen at bars outside the Sydney Opera House (pictured) on Tuesday, with such venues now likely to close entirely
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said a total lockdown would not help.
‘A short-term two-to-four week shut down of society is not recommended by any of our experts. It does not achieve anything. We have to be in this for the long haul,’ he said.
The sweeping changes to Australian society come as officials announced that a 86-year-old man died overnight in hospital in New South Wales – the fifth person to die from the virus in the state.
A NSW Health spokesperson said the organisation’s ‘condolences are with his family and friends at this time’.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 556 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia, causing six deaths
An extra 57 cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed since 11am on Monday.
The man’s death comes after a Queensland woman from Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast died after arriving in Sydney last Friday.
A 90-year-old woman – a resident of Sydney’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge who was confirmed to have COVID-19 – also died on Saturday.
On March 1, a 78-year-old man from Western Australia died in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital after contracting the virus.
He was among 163 Australians evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.
On March 4, a 95-year-old woman died at a Sydney hospital after developing a respiratory illness from the coronavirus, bringing the death toll to two.
Then on March 8, an 82-year-old man died after contracting the coronavirus from an infected aged care worker at BaptistCare’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge in his Sydney.
Usually full of tourists coming to admire street art, Melbourne’s Hosier Lane sat empty on Wednesday afternoon (pictured)
A long couple enjoy the sun in Melbourne’s Federation Square (pictured) on Wednesday afternoon, usually a bustling area full of tourists and workers alike
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 556
New South Wales: 267
South Australia: 32
Western Australia: 31
Northern Territory: 1
Australian Capital Territory: 3
TOTAL CASES: 556
A total of 531 Australians have been infected by coronavirus since the deadly virus spread in January.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said the sudden jump in coronavirus cases comes after ‘high rates of testing’ was conducted.
‘That is a very pleasing thing from my perspective because it means we are able to detect cases in the community, identify those contacts and obviously contain them and self-isolate them because we know we are seeing a number of cases in the contacts of cases,’ she told reporters on Wednesday afternoon.
‘We are also tracking down links and chains of transmission, to block any further community transition.
The Sydney Opera House (pictured virtually empty on Tuesday) will also be forced to close under drastic new coronavirus measures
A woman is seen crossing the road wearing a face mask in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday (pictured) as the country enters lockdown