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'Millions more' need to download the CovidSafe app before restrictions ease, PM says

A decision on how social regulations can be rolled back is expected on May 8.

Maxim Boon

Prime minister Scott Morrison has said that Australia had earned “an early mark” on the national cabinet’s decision to lift social restrictions across the country. The regulations that have been in place for seven weeks have brought the spread of the disease under control faster than experts had predicted, Morrison said, allowing the national cabinet to bring forward its decision on how to begin relaxing baseline restrictions to next Friday, May 8.

The cabinet is due to meet twice next week to hash out the details of the rollback, which could allow Australians to return to workplaces, sporting facilities and hospitality venues in the near future, restarting certain stalled sectors of the national economy.

The Australian health protection principal committee (AHPPC) had set 15 conditions for lifting restrictions, such as reducing the risk of community transmission, expanding testing regimes and lowering the reproduction rate of the virus. Morrison said that 11 of those targets had already been achieved, but one still outstanding condition in particular would need to be met in order for social restrictions to be lifted next week: a larger percentage of the population would need to download the government’s CovidSafe app. 

To date, 3.5 million people have downloaded the contact tracing technology, however “millions more” would need to download the app in the next week for social restrictions to be eased, Morrison said, adding, “It’s over to you, Australia.”

The CovidSafe app was launched on Sunday, April 26, and more than a million Australians downloaded it within 24 hours. However, uptake has since slowed, as concerns over data security and personal privacy have persisted. Morrision likened the app to applying sunscreen in the blazing sun. “We need that tool so we can open the economy. So, if you haven’t downloaded the app yet, download it,” he urged.

Read more: What exactly is the CovidSafe app and what data does it collect

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