Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a crackdown on public auctions and open house inspections.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, the Commonwealth government is extending the reach of its social distancing measures to curb the increase in infections.
Following the National Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (24 March) evening, Mr Morrison addressed the media where he confirmed that a series of new restrictions are set to be applied as part of the government’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19 on Australian shores.
“In the retail space, auction houses, gathering together in auctions rooms – that can no longer continue,” the PM said.
“Real estate auctions and open house inspections – that cannot continue.”
These bans are set to come into effect from midnight Wednesday, 25 March.
Private appointments for inspections can continue.
The move will likely impact the busy auction season, which has seen approximately 2,000 homes taken to auction across the combined capital cities every week over the past month. According to CoreLogic, last week was the second busiest for auction activity so far this year, with 2,539 homes taken to auction across the combined capital cities, returning a preliminary auction clearance rate of 61.3 per cent.
However, it is expected that auctioneers and real estate agents will likely move to holding remote auctions/online inspections to continue business. Already, several companies - including realestate.com.au - have announced the launch of new digital inspection features in a bid to support real estate agents in connecting with consumers through these unprecedented times.
The Prime Minister encouraged citizens to stay home “unless absolutely necessary”.
“If we want to slow the spread of the virus, everyone must implement appropriate social distancing in accordance with state and territory laws,” Mr Morrison said.
“Going out for the basics, going out for exercise, perhaps with your partner or family members, provided it’s a small group, that’s fine,” he said.
However, “going outside and going out and participating more broadly in the community” is not, the PM suggested before adding that the government wants Australians to “use their common sense” during this time.
“That means BBQs of lots of friends, or even family ... coming together to celebrate one-year-old birthday parties and those sorts of things, we can’t do those things right now,” Mr Morrison said.
The National Cabinet will meet again today, Wednesday, 25 March.
As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increase rapidly in Australia (totalling more than 2,000 confirmed cases at the time of writing – more than double the amount of confirmed cases from last week), more restrictions are being brought into place to limit the movement of people in the hopes of controlling the number of new infections.
Other new restrictions include bringing in a new cap on weddings, which will now have a maximum attendance of no more than five people and where the one person per four square metre rule applies.
Funerals can be attended by a maximum of 10 people, with the social distancing rule applying.
Mr Morrison said: “Australian governments are working together to slow the spread of coronavirus to save lives.
“Every extra bit of time allows us to better prepare our health system and put measures in place to protect Australian lives.
“We will be living with this virus for at least six months, so social distancing measures to slow this virus down must be sustainable for at least that long to protect Australian lives, allow Australia to keep functioning and keep Australians in jobs.”
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