After weeks of stern warnings about physical distancing and ‘flattening the curve’, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian’s tone about the state’s future has been far more optimistic in recent days. A handful of social restrictions (on retail openings and visiting other people’s houses) have already been relaxed this week, with guidelines – or ‘national principles’ as they are being called – on how to rollback more regulations due from the federal government after tomorrow’s much-anticipated cabinet meeting.
Until now, a timeline describing how long restrictions will remain in place has been vague. However, for the first time, in her morning media briefing on May 7, the premier offered a more concrete prediction, saying that by the end of June, “life will be much more normal.”
Berejiklian said the state’s priority now was to “get [life] back to normal as quickly as possible”, and to “kickstart the economy”, adding that the strategy behind the state’s response to the crisis would now shift from a ‘stay at home’ policy to a ‘stay safe’ policy.
Daily data on the effectiveness of the state’s testing regime continues to suggest that containment efforts are working as desired. NSW logged a new record for the number of daily tests on May 6 – a total of 10,902 people screened – with just three new cases diagnosed, and no new instances of community transmission. The state has also now introduced a new system whereby anyone who tests negative will be notified by text, rather than having to ring a testing centre to get their results, which will further streamline the testing process.
However, Berejiklian also said she wanted to “manage expectations” over the rollback plan due from the federal government on May 8. She said that while advice on easing restrictions may be released before the weekend, it was highly unlikely that any amendments to the state’s current restrictions would come into effect before Monday, May 11. This is particularly true of the rumoured changes to the number of people who can gather in a residence, which is likely to increase from two adults to ten adults. “If the national cabinet does suggest easing of restrictions, they won’t be able to be made in time for Mother’s Day,” Berejiklian said. “We will be able to visit them – two adults and children at any one time and of course that can happen multiple times a day as long as everybody is careful.”