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Australia limits public gatherings to 2 people over pandemic

SYDNEY (Kyodo) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday said the number of people gathering in a public space is now restricted to two, down from the earlier limit of 10, in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

    Speaking at a press conference following a meeting with state and territory leaders, Morrison said that the tougher measure does not apply to members of the same household.

    States and territories will decide whether to make it an enforceable limit, he added. The 10-person limit is already being enforced.

    In addition, public playgrounds, outside gyms and skate parks will be closed from Monday, he said.

    While noting that the daily rate of increase of confirmed infections has fallen from 30 percent last week to 9 percent Sunday, he added that "there are no guarantees about how that goes forward."

    He reiterated that people should only leave their homes to shop for necessities, for medical or compassionate care, to exercise, and for work and education "if you cannot work or learn remotely."

    Pubs, cafes and restaurants and other venues have already been shut down indefinitely to slow the spread of the virus.

    From Sunday, a two-week mandatory quarantine began to be enforced for all Australians arriving from overseas. Arrivals were being bussed to hotels or other accommodation, where they will be quarantined before being allowed home.

    Foreigners are already essentially barred from entering the country.

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