Australia on Friday postponed its annual budget and announced tough curbs on gatherings of people as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus crisis, as the country’s worst-hit state saw its biggest daily spike in infections. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that the federal budget would be delayed from May until October, and all indoor gatherings of fewer than 100 people would have to allow at least four square metres (11 square feet) per person in a room. “The idea that you can actually put together any sort of forecast around the economy at this time is simply not sensible,” Morrison said at a press conference. Morrison also said access to remote Indigenous communities would be restricted to those providing essential services only. Think warmer weather will kill the coronavirus? It hasn’t in Australia The drastic measures came as New South Wales on Friday recorded 75 new cases within a 24-hour period, its biggest rise since the country’s outbreak began in January, bringing the total number of infections in the country’s most populous state to 382. Dozens more cases were confirmed in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Australia had as of Friday morning confirmed at least 709 cases of the virus and six deaths. Jurisdictions have tested more than 100,000 people. In New South Wales state, a cluster emerged after 31 people who attended a Sydney wedding tested positive for the virus before passing it on to another four contacts. The state health department said all attendees would have to quarantine themselves until March 20 due to the high level of exposure at the wedding in Stanwell Tops, a beachside town south of Sydney, on March 6. About 2,700 passengers from the Ruby Princess cruise ship that disembarked in Sydney on Thursday were ordered to self-isolate after three of them were confirmed to be infected. “Our big concern, the very big concern, is that those people came off the cruise with no knowledge of Covid actually being on their ship,” New South Wales state health minister Brad Hazzard said. Australians avoid Chinese food amid coronavirus fears Australia’s latest emergency measures followed the government’s extraordinary step earlier this week to ban all foreign arrivals, excluding permanent residents, and all “non-essential” gatherings of more than 100 people. “No one, including the experts, knows what will happen,” said Peter Brent, a political commentator and adjunct research fellow at Swinburne University of Technology. “In times of insecurity, Australians are, probably even more than most, liable to look to the government to help,” he said. “So there’s an appetite for drastic measures, which might of course change if and when those measures arise. Crises generally cede heightened authority to a head of government.” Morrison also outlined details of a planned second stimulus package, following A$17.6 billion ($10.1 billion) worth of stimulus announced last week, which he said would seek to “cushion the blow” for small and medium size businesses over the next six months as the country headed toward its first recession in 30 years. “There will be Australians over the next six months who, through no fault of their own, will find themselves with less work, with less income, and in the worst case, without a job,” said Morrison. Coronavirus: Beijing urges Australia to ease travel ban on China travellers Australia was early among Western countries in taking strong measures in response to the pandemic, quarantining at-risk arrivals and banning almost all travel from China on February 1, followed by subsequent bans for heavily-affected South Korea , Italy and Iran . Australia has recorded far fewer infections than the United States or many countries in Europe , although the number of cases has doubled in recent days. “Morrison has largely succeeded in cloaking himself in the mantle of authority, including scolding panic buyers as one might scold a wayward child,” said Brent. “It really is early days, but it is likely his stature will continue to grow in the weeks ahead. However, beyond that is difficult to tell.” The number of cases is expected to increase in the coming days and the Australian government may have to take more strict measures, such as school closures, lockdowns, and so on. Abrar Ahmad Chughtai, University of New South Wales But some experts, such as University of New South Wales professor Bill Bowtell, have criticised the government for not going far enough by opting not to close schools and ban all public events in Australia . Morrison, whose response to the pandemic has been contrasted favourably with his widely-panned handling of devastating bush fires in December and January, has defended the decision to keep schools open as being in “the national interest”, arguing the virus poses little risk to most young people and that closures would place a further burden on overstretched health care workers. Abrar Ahmad Chughtai, a lecturer in international health at the University of New South Wales, said the government’s response had been effective and “evidence-based” so far, but more drastic measures could be needed further down the line. “The number of cases is expected to increase in the coming days and the Australian government may have to take more strict measures, such as school closures, lockdowns, and so on,” Chughta said. Additional reporting by Bloomberg and Reuters Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.