Australia is effectively in lockdown in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, with varying rules for each state.
On Wednesday, March 29, the strictest social distancing measures yet were put in place, and just 16 “reasonable excuses” to leave one’s place of residence were announced in NSW.
These included going out for food, medical supplies, exercise and essential work, but made no mention of romantic encounters or rules around couples who live apart being able to see each other.
Is it permitted for couples to hang out? Or are partners who reside in different households being asked to effectively commence a long-distance relationship until social distancing restrictions are lifted?
Now, NSW police commissioner Mike Fuller has provided some clarity around this very subject, confirming in a press conference that it is, in fact, okay for couples to visit each other in iso under reason 16 of “compassionate reasons”.
“Absolutely! That’s under care,” he responded to a question about partners visiting each other.
“Mental health is under care. Absolutely, under care. I think we have to look after each other, but don’t take the whole family with you. Don’t take your grandparents.”
In Victoria, things weren’t quite so clear. Originally, the state was against couples visiting, with the state’s Minister for Police and Emergency Service, Lisa Neville, saying in a tweet: “You cannot visit your partner for social reasons.”
Now, though, it would seem Victoria has relaxed this ruling. With Victorian Chief Health Officer, Prof Brett Sutton, tweeting on April 1: “We have no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners if they don’t usually reside together.”
Regarding ‘Stay at Home’ rules: We have no desire to penalise individuals who are staying with or meeting their partners if they don’t usually reside together. We’ll be making an exemption. Hope that helps.
— Chief Health Officer, Victoria (@VictorianCHO) April 1, 2020
Of course, these rules do not open couples up to a romantic outing. Everyone, including the romantically involved, should be keeping their distance and adhering to social distancing recommendations ie. staying 1.5m apart.
If you’re unsure about the restrictions in your state, check your state’s government site for more information.
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.