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‘We walk before we run’: National cabinet reveals roadmap to ease coronavirus restrictions


Matt Woodley


8/05/2020 2:53:32 PM

States and territories have announced – and in some cases enacted – plans to ease restrictions.

Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the timing and selection of eased restrictions will be left to each state and territory leader. (Image: AAP)

UPDATED

The first step in the Roadmap to a COVIDSafe Australia, outlined by Prime Minister Scott Morrison immediately following the national cabinet meeting on Friday, will allow five visitors in private homes and 10 visitors in businesses and public places.
 
Restaurants, cafes and retail will be allowed to open, as will libraries, community centres, playgrounds and exercise boot camps. Travel within states for non-essential reasons will also be allowed.
 
State and territory leaders will determine which rules are lifted and when this will occur in their own jurisdictions, while the national cabinet will reconvene every three weeks to review the impact of changes and decide when to move to the second and third stages.
 
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy told reporters stage one involves ‘tentative baby steps into normalisation’, but that should it prove successful, ‘step two could be more confident’.
 
Stage two will allow gatherings of up to 20 people, as well as the opening of gyms, beauty shops, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks. Caravan parks and camping grounds will be allowed to operate and some interstate travel will be permitted.
 
The third stage will let people gather in groups of up to 100, and see the opening of nightclubs, food courts and saunas. It is expected to include interstate travel, as well as the possibility of travel to New Zealand.
 
Professor Murphy said evidence is growing that the majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs indoors, and that the three stages are designed to be clear and simple.
 
‘We got together and we looked at what was like a consensus position,’ he said. ‘Not every state agrees with every step, but we look at the relative risk of each thing.
 
‘There’s an absolute risk about gathering size. So, that’s a protection, so that if things do break out, if we’ve only got gatherings of 10, that means much less potential for transmission.’
 
It is not clear what criteria will need to be met in order for subsequent stages to be enacted, but Prime Minister Morrison said once in place, a return to more stringent lockdowns is unlikely.
 
‘It’s like the emu and the kangaroo, they go forwards, not backwards, and that’s how this has to work,’ he said. ‘Premiers and chief ministers are very keen to ensure that you continue to move forward.
 
‘In this plan, we walk before we run.
 
‘All of these steps, the key requirement as you move from one to the next, is [that] it’s subject to the health advice.
 
‘We’ve always acted on the basis of the expert advice. And if the expert health advice that, God forbid, we’re in a situation [of a significant outbreak], then we would have to take the health advice in those circumstances.’
 
What did states and territories have to say?
 
Australian Capital Territory
Some eased restrictions came into effect from midnight Friday 8 May.
 
New South Wales
‘New South Wales will be considering the data we collected in May, to make sure that any further consideration of easing restrictions will be done in a solid way so that we continue to gain ground,’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian said ahead of the national cabinet meeting.
 
The state will not be making any immediate moves to further loosen its social distancing measures, having already relaxed some rules. However, Premier Berejiklian is hopeful schools will return to full-time face-to-face teaching by the end of May.
 
Northern Territory
The NT already announced plans to lift a number of coronavirus-related restrictions prior to the national cabinet meeting, including the reopening of bars and clubs in the coming weeks.
 
‘Because we are the safest place in Australia, we can do this before the rest of Australia,’ NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said when announcing the changes on 30 April.
 
‘The whole idea is get to as close to normal without putting you at risk and without putting some of Australia’s vulnerable at risk.
 
‘This new normal will be with us for a while.’
 
Queensland
‘I want to reassure you that I am listening to my Chief Health Officer and taking the very best health advice, and we are also working constructively at the national cabinet,’ Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
 
Stage one will be implemented in the state from 15 May, with stages two and three slated to be enacted on 12 June and 10 July, respectively.
 
South Australia
‘[The roadmap details] what step one, or stage one, looks like in South Australia – which will begin from Monday next week – and then the next stage, giving real certainty to the businesses and the individuals in our state, so that they can start planning from early June onwards,’ Premier Steven Marshall said.
 
‘There are still some things which are yet to be decided, and I think most people would appreciate that we can’t make predictions of what the situation is going to be in two, three, four or six months’ time.
 
‘There is still a lot of caution around gatherings, in particular mass gatherings, and I can’t imagine that there’s going to be a massive game played at the Adelaide Oval [with] 55,000 spectators any time soon.’
 
SA further loosened already relaxed restrictions from Monday 11 May, with a view to progressing to stage two by 8 June.
 
Tasmania
Premier Peter Gutwein revealed the Tasmanian Government has eased restrictions on funeral attendance, aged care visits and exercise in parks and reserves.
 
The number of attendees allowed at funerals will increase from 10 to 20, while aged care visits will be allowed once a week for a maximum of two visitors. National parks and reserves will open to residents who live no more than 30 km away.
 
Public gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed from 18 May, but visits to households will still be limited to five people.
 
Restaurants and cafes will also be allowed to open for up to 10 seated patrons at a time, but state border controls will remain in place. Playgrounds, pools and exercise boot camps will be allowed for up to 10 people.
 
On 25 May, some students will return to classrooms and aged care visits will be allowed daily for a maximum of two visitors.
 
Further restrictions set to be eased should transmission remain low can be found here.

MH-commission-hero.jpg
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has taken a cautious approach to easing restrictions in his state. (Image: AAP)

Victoria
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced people will be able to have five visitors to their home from midnight on Tuesday 12 May. Visitors should be limited to friends and family in order to assist with contact tracing if someone contracts COVID-19.
 
‘It is not an invitation to be having a dinner party at every house every night,’ Premier Andrews said. ‘We have to use our common sense. We have to be proportionate [and] recognise that this is far from over.’
 
Outdoor public gatherings of 10 people will also be allowed, including weddings, recreational activities such as hiking and fishing, and exercise. However, skate parks, playgrounds, gyms and indoor sports centres will remain closed, and camping is still prohibited.
 
Victorians will be allowed to have 20 mourners at indoor funerals and 30 for outdoor funerals. These restrictions are in addition to the people required to conduct the funeral, but the five-visitor rule still applies to funerals held at private residences.
 
There is an additional requirement to keep records of names and contact details of each guest to assist in contact tracing if required.
 
The new rules will be reviewed in three weeks, with the option for another relaxation of the rules in June should Victoria continue to see low transmission.
 
Western Australia
Premier Mark McGowan has revealed WA’s four-phase roadmap for relaxing restrictions, with the next stage of changes set to take place on 18 May.
 
The new restrictions will allow indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings of up to 20 people, while
weddings and funerals will be able to accommodate up to 20 people inside or 30 outside.
 
Cafés and restaurants with meal service, including within pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and the casino, will be able to serve up to 20 patrons.
 
Western Australians are encouraged to return to work, unless they are unwell or vulnerable.
 
Regional travel restrictions will be relaxed, with travel allowed between:

  • South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt and Perth-Peel regions
  • Mid West, Gascoyne and Pilbara regions (excluding the biosecurity zone)
  • Goldfields-Esperance region (excluding the biosecurity zone)
  • within Kimberley local government areas (the Commonwealth’s biosecurity zone remains in place).
Non-contact community sports of up to 20 people will be allowed, with the same restrictions applying to outdoor or indoor fitness classes with minimal shared equipment. Public pools (one indoor and one outdoor) will be permitted to open under strict rules and allow up to 20 patrons per pool.
 
Places of worship, community facilities and libraries will be permitted to reopen and accommodate up to 20 patrons.
 
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus available on its website.
 
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