Australian States Have Power on Relaxing Virus Rules

By AAP
May 8, 2020 Updated: May 8, 2020

Australia’s COVID-19 road to recovery has been revealed with federal and state leaders deciding on a three-stage plan to restart society.

The final phase is expected to be implemented in July, with states and territories to move at different paces on lifting restrictions.

State premiers and territory chief ministers have the power to pick and choose which rules to change in coming months.

Under the national framework restaurants, cafes and shops will be allowed to reopen, with the limit on public gatherings raised to 10 people.

Five people will be allowed to visit other homes.

Weddings will be allowed up to 10 guests in addition to the couple and celebrant, while funerals can have 20 mourners indoors and 30 outdoors.

Real estate home inspections and auctions can resume with a 10-person limit, while children will return to schools and child care.

Universities and TAFE colleges are set to increase face-to-face teaching, with an initial priority put on skills which require a hands-on approach.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the plan would get 850,000 people back to work when fully implemented.

“You can stay under the doona forever and you’ll never face any danger. But we’ve got to get out from under the doona at some time,” he said.

“If not now, well, then when?”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will not lift any restrictions until at least Monday, refusing to apologise for his hardline approach.

“This is a pandemic, this is not a popularity contest,” he said.

NSW is also cautious, holding off on any announcements, while NT, WA and SA have moved to adopt many of the stage one measures from the national cabinet guidelines.

Tasmania is easing restrictions gradually, but Queensland is moving more rapidly to allow dining in pubs and clubs for 10 people at a time from May 16.

There have been 6900 confirmed cases in Australia, with 97 people dead.

Daily infection rates remain low and there are fewer than 1000 active cases.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy is urging people to maintain physical distancing and good hygiene to stop further outbreaks.

“Please, keep that distancing. We could lose the battle that we have won so well so far,” he said.

Murphy believes hand washing and no longer soldering on to work while sick are two permanent changes to come from the pandemic.

By Matt Coughlan