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Virus halts auctions, weddings, tattoos


Australians will face even tighter restrictions on daily life, including strict rules around weddings and funerals, as the country grapples with the "very concerning" growth in coronavirus cases.

An expanded list of businesses will be forced to close their doors at midnight on Wednesday with an emphasis on stopping large gatherings as COVID-19 infections in Australia double every four days, reaching 2136 earlier in the day.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says Australians need to avoid unnecessary interactions.

"We are very worried about the rate of rise of the number of coronavirus cases in Australia, particularly over the last few days," Prof Murphy said on Tuesday night.

"It is a very, very steep growth and it is very concerning."

He was particularly concerned about travellers returning from overseas with the virus and stressed the importance of social distancing to prevent community transmission.

"We have to change the way we interact, as human beings, in our society, for quite a long time. This virus will be with us for some time," he said.

Among the new restrictions in place from midnight on Wednesday, weddings will be restricted to the couple, celebrant and two witnesses only, while funerals can only have a maximum of 10 mourners.

Open house inspections and auctions are banned as are personal services such as beauty therapy, waxing, tattoo parlours and massage to go with the closure of pubs, clubs, cafes and restaurants announced on Sunday.

Takeaway services from cafes and restaurants are still available although food courts in shopping centres will have to close seating areas.

Most community facilities will also close, including libraries, swimming pools, RSLs, galleries and community centres.

Health-related personal services, such as physiotherapy, will be allowed to keep running.

Outdoor boot camps and personal training will be limited to a maximum of 10 people per session.

Outdoor and indoor markets are banned while rules around major food markets will be addressed by states and territories.

State governments will also be policing social gatherings in public spaces - even parents grouping together at playgrounds - and in people's houses.

"These measures are really draconian," Prof Murphy said.

"But if we're going to control community transmission, we have to stop the capacity of this virus from spreading from person to person. And I have said many times, it is a long haul."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged it would be tough as even large social gatherings in homes are banned.

"Barbecues of lots of friends or even ... extended family coming together to celebrate one-year-old birthday parties and all these sorts of things - we can't do those things now," he said.

"If you're gathering together in a group, say 10 people, outside together in a group, that's not OK."

Mr Morrison also said Australians will be banned from travelling overseas after it became clear that some are defying the advice not to travel anywhere in the world.

Small exceptions will be made for aid workers and other vital government travel.

But Mr Morrison said it was still safe to send children to school and will meet education unions on Wednesday.

He said it's vital that essential workers be able to send their children to school if they needed to.

"Who is an essential worker? Someone who has a job."

Schools in Victoria and the ACT have closed but remain open in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland.

A passenger from the Ruby Princess cruise ship was confirmed on Tuesday as Australia's eighth death.

The NSW woman in her 70s is one of 133 coronavirus cases from the ship which was allowed to dock in Sydney last week and unload its untested passengers, who then travelled home around Australia.

Police and the military have started patrolling the South Australian, West Australian and Northern Territory borders, while Queensland will be closed to all but essential travellers from midnight on Wednesday.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says her state has reached a critical stage with 149 new cases on Tuesday bringing its total to 818, including seven of Australia's eight deaths.

Massive queues returned to Centrelink offices around the country on Tuesday while its online portal crashed for the second day in a row as thousands of suddenly unemployed Australians try to register for benefits.

More than 800,000 jobs could be lost by the end of June and the unemployment rate reach 1.5 million as vast swathes of the Australian economy is shut down.

© AAP 2020