A STATE of Emergency has been declared in Victoria to combat coronavirus and help provide the Chief Health Officer with the powers to enforce 14-day isolation requirements for travellers entering Australia.

Premier Daniel Andrews and state health minister Jenny Mikakos announced the State of Emergency would begin at noon on Monday, 16 March and be in force for four weeks to assist with measures designed to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 and give the health system the best chance of managing the virus.

Under a State of Emergency, authorised officers, at the direction of the Chief Health Officer, can act to eliminate or reduce a serious risk to public health by detaining people, restricting movement, preventing entry to premises, or providing any other direction an AO considers reasonable to protect public health.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the first direction from the Chief Health Officer under these new powers would include banning non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

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Mr Andrews said the powers would also allow the Chief Health Officer to do whatever is necessary to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the risk to the health of Victorians.

“We are taking these steps, after agreement from the National Cabinet that includes the Prime Minister and all Premiers and Chief Ministers, to contain the spread of coronavirus as much as we can,” the Premier said.

“Make no mistake, the next few weeks and months will be tough for everyone, but we’re doing what is necessary to protect Victorians.”

Health minister Jenny Mikakos described the situation as “the biggest public health challenge we’ve faced in our lifetimes”. “That’s why it’s so important that we have the right tools at our disposal to minimise the impact of this virus,” she said.

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