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Prime Minister delivers an ultimatum to aged care sector

Last Friday, Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison threatened the aged care sector to stick to the current visitor restrictions baseline provided by the National Cabinet or face the Commonwealth getting involved. 

If the aged care sector who are going above the recommended restrictions do not dial it back to the national baseline, the Commonwealth will get involved. [Source: Scott Morrison Facebook Page Live]

PM Morrison says if the aged care facilities who are going above and beyond the recommended visitor restrictions do not dial it back to the national baseline, the Commonwealth will require facilities to seek an exemption so they can implement further restrictions.

"National Cabinet has continued to stress concerns about the restrictions put in place by aged care facilities, as noted earlier this week, that were beyond the baseline requirements of what National Cabinet had agreed upon by expert medical advice," says PM Morrison.

"We are flagging, 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 will be moving to require aged care facilities that wish to have an exemption to those national principals, those national arrangements, then they will need to seek authority to do that from the Commonwealth and we would make such a decision in consultation with the relevant State or Territory jurisdiction," says PM Morrison. 

He says there are valid reasons for why an aged care facility may seek an exemption to the current aged care visitation rules, referencing COVID-19 outbreaks in North West Tasmania and in Western Sydney.

"But more broadly, having people stuck in their rooms, not being able to be visited by their loved ones, carers and other support people, that is not okay," says PM Morrison. 

"And so, let's see how the industry goes with that. We would very much like to keep these things on a basis where aged care facilities are exercising their proper discretion. But we are not going to have these secret places where people can't access them - they must."

This ultimatum follows PM Morrison's announcement earlier this week, where he stated that the National Cabinet was concerned to hear aged care facilities were isolating older people and going beyond the recommended requirements.

In the industry, providers and peak bodies have raised concern around the lack of clarity on requirements and recommendations.

Talking Aged Care will continue to update this story as it progresses.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Aged Care Guide's COVID-19 update page. 

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