PM’s plan to end Covid-19 lockdown explained
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed Australia will ease strict social distancing restrictions in three stages, in a bid to revive the struggling economy as coronavirus infection rates remain low.
"Today, we move ahead with reopening our economy and our society with a clear plan, and a clear framework, that shows Australians the road ahead," Mr Morrison said at a media conference in Canberra.
National cabinet has considered advice from the expert medical panel and devised the three-pronged approach, beginning cautiously before slowly opening more and more of society.
While states and territories will move ahead at their own spread, the group has agreed on an overarching guide to building a "COVID-safe" economy, Mr Morrison said.
Stage one will see people allowed to have five visitors at home, and 10 people in businesses and public places, it has been announced.
Small restaurants and cafes will be able to reopen, while still abiding to social distancing measures, and retail shopping can resume.
Although, chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy said some states would hold off on that particular measure.
"So, some states don't want to open cafes and restaurants initially, because they feel that their situation, they would prefer to take some time," Prof Murphy said.
Libraries, community centres, playgrounds and boot camps can open, and people will be allowed to travel locally and regionally.
Mr Morrison said step one would mean: "Golfers back on the green. Lap swimmers back in the pool. Boot catch camps back in the parks. Retail and small cafes and restaurants reopening.
"It will see easing of restrictions for funerals with up to 30 attendees, outdoors, and 10 at weddings."
People will still be encouraged to work from home if it's possible for both the employee and employer, Mr Morrison said.
As for when stage one begins, Mr Morrison was keen to stress that each state and territory will make its own decision, and not all will adopt the entirety of recommended eased restrictions.
Step two would allow gatherings of 20 people in their homes, in businesses and in public places, he said, although some states and territories may allow larger numbers in some circumstances.
Gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks would be able to reopen, as would caravan and camping groups.
Some interstate travel could be permissible in stage two, Mr Morrison said.
People would still be encouraged to work from home "if it works for you and your employer".
Stage three would see allowable gathering sizes increased to 100, the PM said, meaning pubs and nightclubs.
Other businesses and places of gathering like food courts and saunas would also reopen.
And the National Cabinet will in that stage consider cross-Tasman and Pacific Island travel, as well as international student travel.
People would be largely encouraged to return to their workplace and all interstate travel would resume, he said.
"It's our aspiration as agreed among premiers and chief ministers, in July, we would have moved through these three steps through the country," Mr Morrison said.
More details will be released about stages two and three as time goes on, and depending on the success of stage one, he said.
"We'll be reviewing progress of our plan every three weeks and making any changes as we need to.
Across all three stages, people will need to maintain 1.5-metre physical distancing, good hand hygiene, responsible respiratory hygiene and the continued use of the COVIDsafe app.
Anyone feeling unwell should remain at home and not go outside or to work.
Broader international travel is unlikely to resume anytime soon, Prof Murphy said.
"We're not looking at the border measures as we have said on many occasions (because) two-thirds of the cases in Australia have been from returning travellers," he said.
"We're not going to relax any of our border measures soon and we're going to continue to quarantine all returning travellers because this virus is certainly in a much worse position in many other countries from which our citizens are returning."
Originally published as PM's three-stage plan explained