Few episodes in the evolving narrative of Australia's encounter with the coronavirus will prove more controversial than COAG's decision to recommend against "non-essential" gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.
It's not a ban, it is at odds with the growing list of big events, including the Formula One Grand Prix and the Royal Easter Show, that have already been cancelled, and it doesn't take effect immediately.
It is, in fact, another announcement intended to clarify a rapidly changing and highly complex situation that has left most people more confused than before.
This is not a good look given Federal, state and territory governments have come under fire for failing to provide clear leadership and direction on the practicalities of the coronavirus and people's daily lives.
Then, to muddy the waters further, the PM was adamant for a good deal of Friday he would attend Cronulla's NRL match on Saturday.
One suspects the COAG leaders, acting on the advice of chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, set out with the best of intentions but lost their way in trying to strike a balance between protecting the health of individuals and of our society as a whole.
That is the delicate balancing act our usually tight knit Federation has been trying to pull off since January.
The very fact Friday's COAG meeting was the first time senior leaders from the two top tiers of government met in the same room at the same time since the emergency began cuts to the heart of the biggest problem in coming up with a unified national response.
Every state and every territory has its own health networks. They all look to Canberra for funds but are fiercely independent in how they go about their business.
Many Prime Ministers have learnt there is a high price to pay for trying to ride roughshod over the well-entrenched, and fiercely guarded, prerogatives of state governments.
The most important news to come out of COAG was not the recommendations against mass gatherings or international travel; it was the formation of a national cabinet, which meets for the first time on Sunday, to co-ordinate the national response.
It is to be hoped that once this has been bedded down much of the current confusion and mixed messaging will disappear.
The decision to delay the anti-gathering recommendation until Monday is reasonable.
That said, the decision to delay the implementation of the anti-gathering recommendation until Monday is reasonable.
Professor Murphy is clearly of the view that with less than 200 cases of COVID-19 in the entire country, and with a low incidence of community transmission, there is little or no clear and present danger.
The anti-gathering announcement is more about getting us accustomed to some of the measures that will likely be rolled out in the coming weeks than as a response to an immediate probability that if you go to the footy you will come home with coronavirus.
That said, the decision to proceed with the Raiders vs Titans game on Friday night was out of step with public sentiment and emerging trends.
It has to be said, in the organisers's defence, that the issues involved with cancelling at such short notice would have been very great and the public health benefits apparently minimal.
This was why the recommendation to shut down mass gatherings was timed to take effect after the weekend. The pain, according to the chief medical officer who has delivered excellent advice so far, of shutting down weekend events on a Friday night, was unlikely to be worth the gain.
Let's just hope he is right in this assessment of the risk to the community.
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