Scott Morrison issues warning to aged care facilities to allow visitors or Commonwealth will get involved

The Prime Minister has warned aged care facilities that are imposing visitor rules beyond the national coronavirus advice to stop, saying the Commonwealth will step in if they do not.

Scott Morrison said despite his “strong reminder” to facilities earlier this week that the advice is residents can have two visitors a day, some facilities were still barring families from seeing their loved ones.

“I am flagging very clearly at a federal level, that should we not see an improvement in this area, under the voluntary arrangements that we currently have in place, that the Commonwealth would be moving to require aged care facilities that wish to have an exemption to those national principles … they would need to seek authority to do that from the Commonwealth,” he said.

“It’s not my inclination to explore that sort of regulatory approach, but if it’s necessary then we’ll do it.”

Mr Morrison acknowledged there would be situations when bans on visitors were necessary for the safety of residents and staff, but that in all other circumstances facilities must follow the national advice.

“There are quite valid reasons why you would have exemptions, particularly as we’ve seen in north-west Tasmania at the moment, or what we’ve seen in western Sydney or in other places,” he said.

“That is entirely sensible as to why you would have restrictions that are greater than the national baseline in those circumstances. Totally reasonable.

“But more broadly, having people stuck in their rooms, not being able to be visited by their loved ones and carers and other support people, that’s not okay.”

When asked why facilities were not cooperating with the Government’s advice, the Prime Minister said that was something to “work through with the sector”.

“If there is a factor here, we’d be keen to understand what it is.

“But the very clear medical advice we have is that these visits are quite safe when they’re done in the right circumstances.”

More to come.