CANBERRA MATTERS | COVID-19 rules: Swanson clarifies facts from latest update

WHAT TO KNOW: Meryl Swanson MP clarifies some of the facts around the latest annoucement of COVID-19 rules as of March 23.
WHAT TO KNOW: Meryl Swanson MP clarifies some of the facts around the latest annoucement of COVID-19 rules as of March 23.

We are in an unprecedented health crisis. Coronavirus (covid-19) continues to have an unprecedented effect on the world, and Australia is in the midst of this epidemic.

There have been many messages and priorities since the first Australian diagnosis in January. Still, one thing remains clear: we can only get through this by working together, and we all have a part to play.

By now, we should all be very aware of how to prevent the spread of covid-19 and who is the most vulnerable in our community. We should all be socially distancing when out in public and staying home when and if possible. But there is a lot of information floating around that has caused confusion.

I want to take the opportunity to clarify some of the facts.

What businesses have closed?

From Monday, March 23, the Prime Minister put a restriction on places of social gatherings. This includes pubs, registered and licensed clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation), gyms and indoor sporting venues, cinemas, and places of worship or funerals.

Further to this, restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery. If an industry or businesses does not fit the criteria above, they are not required to close.

Are schools still open?

Yes - students will not be turned away if they go to school. However, parents are encouraged to keep their children at home.

I've lost my job. What support is available?

There are a range of measures that have been introduced to support Australians who lose their job or lose hours as a result of covid-19. To fast track this process and compensate for the millions of Australians who are expected to access these services, the government has introduced the ability to lodge "intent to claim". Go to to find out what you are entitled to.

Should I go straight to the hospital if I'm not feeling well?

If you require immediate assistance, call 000. If you have symptoms of covid-19 such as a temperature, cough or runny nose, arrange to see your doctor for an urgent assessment. Phone the health clinic or hospital before you arrive and tell them your travel history or if you have been in contact with a potential case of coronavirus. Please be aware that information is changing rapidly and this advice was accurate as of Monday, March 23. I have updated my website to provide quick links to common topics around coronavirus, and this information is updated regularly.

I would encourage you to visit for the most recent and relevant information. If you require further assistance, you can contact my office by email. Due to an increase in the number of calls, the most effective way to get in touch is via email at

This isn't the time to play politics; it's time to help people and show leadership.

Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Stay indoors when you can... We will get through this together.

  • Meryl Swanson is the Federal MP for Paterson. Her office can be contacted on 02 4983 2401 or via