Australia’s national cabinet has met today to map out exactly how Australia will be emerging from current lockdown restrictions and bans.
Prime minister Scott Morrison announced a three-step plan to “achieve a Covid-safe economy” by July of this year.
Step one includes allowing five visitors at home, with ten people able to be in businesses and public places. Restaurants, cafés and shopping will resume, but in limited capacities and dependent on space. Libraries, community centres, playgrounds and boot camps will reopen, plus intrastate recreational travel will resume. Funerals can be extended to 30 guests and weddings to ten guests.
Step two includes larger gatherings of up to 20 people (in homes, businesses and public places), including cinemas and galleries. Gyms, beauty parlours, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks will reopen. Caravans and camping grounds will be back, and some interstate travel will be allowed. During both step one and step two, employees are encouraged to work from home if that arrangement suits them and their employer.
In step three, gatherings will be increased to 100 people. Those who wish to can return to the workplace. Nightclubs, food courts and saunas will reopen. All interstate travel will be allowed, and there is a consideration that cross-Tasman, Pacific Island and international student travel will be allowed.
Morrison said that step three “will become clearer as we work through the first two steps”. The prime minister believes that by July, we will have moved through these three steps, though the pace “will be up to the states and territories”.
Decisions made during this meeting are non-binding for states, which means it’s actually up to each individual premier to decide on a plan of action for their state. Morrison noted that there would be “inconsistencies” between the states as each state would be able to “move at their own pace”. “There is no expectation that step one will start on day one,” says Morrison. “Moving on these steps will take preparation.”
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has not yet spoken publicly about what these steps mean for Victoria and whether - and how soon - any of these measures would be implemented.
For these three steps to go ahead, strict criteria must be adhered to, including staying home when you’re sick, practising respiratory hygiene, maintaining hand hygiene and maintaining 1.5-metre physical distancing. Morrison also urged Australians to download the Covid-Safe app, saying it “is the best way you can help us do this job, to keep you and your family safe”. Read eight things you might not know about the government’s contact tracing app.
As of yesterday, May 7, there are currently 105 active cases in Victoria, including a cluster of cases from an outbreak at a Melbourne meat processing facility (see a map of active cases here). More than 176,000 tests have been completed in Victoria to date, with the state passing a huge milestone in the current testing blitz earlier this week.