The ‘level three’ social restrictions that have been in effect in NSW for the past six weeks will soon be eased, premier Gladys Berejiklian announced at her April 28 morning media briefing. From Friday, May 1, two adults will be permitted to visit other households for the purposes of socialising. Formerly, visiting friends or family was only allowed for ‘essential reasons’ such as dropping off groceries or medical supplies.
This concession is the first major reversal of the ‘suppression’ shutdown measures that were introduced in March. Since those regulations were announced, NSW has seen a steady decline in the number of new cases. On April 27, the state reported its lowest daily number of diagnosed patients since the crisis began – just two confirmed infections – and at the April 28 briefing, NSW’s chief medical officer, Dr Kerry Chant, reported the second consecutive day without a single case of community transmission, where the original source is impossible to trace.
Certain shops will also be allowed to reopen under the proviso that they are providing essential supplies. However, it will be up to individual retailers to determine whether their goods are essential to their customers, and this could include clothing and shoe stores. However, more hands-on services, such as beauty therapies, will still be prohibited.
Berejiklian said the relaxing of social restrictions were a way to reward NSW residents for their vigilance in recent weeks, although she continued to urge the public to abide by physical distancing protocols and to self-isolate if they experience any symptoms. “If you are symptomatic at all – and that can include a slight cough or a sniffle – you shouldn’t be going out. You need to get tested and self-isolate,” she said.
A sharp decline in the number of new cases has also been recorded all over the country, with Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia all registering zero new cases in recent days. Across the ditch in New Zealand, where strict lockdown regulations were lifted on April 27, prime minister Jacinda Ardern has said the country has stopped “widespread, undetected community transmission". This has increased the likelihood of travel between New Zealand and Australia being reestablished in the near future, which was first suggested by Australian prime minister Scott Morrison last week.