Australians do not know when they will be allowed to attend music festivals and sport matches or travels overseas again, despite the government moving to wind back coronavirus restrictions.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday the national baseline restrictions would be relaxed in three stages by the end of July.
The first step will allow gatherings of ten people outside and at cafes and restaurants.
The second step allows gatherings of 20 with gyms, salons and cinemas back open.
The third stage allows 100 people to come together with pubs open and flights to New Zealand and Pacific islands.
But Mr Morrison failed to address when hundreds or thousands of people will be allowed to gather for an event like a concert or an NRL match, as well as when Australians can begin to book international holidays.
Asked about international travel except for New Zealand and the Pacific, he said: ‘I cannot see that happening any time soon’.
Australians do not know when they will be allowed to travel overseas for a holiday. Asked about international travel except for New Zealand and the Pacific, Scott Morrison said: ‘I cannot see that happening any time soon.’
The prime minister failed to address when hundreds or thousands of people will be allowed to gather for an event like a concert or an NRL match
When Australia reaches step three and gatherings with 100 people are allowed, contact details must be recorded.
State and territory leaders will decide when they move between stages.
The Northern Territory is already at stage one, South Australia will move to stage one on Monday, Queensland on 15 May and Tasmania on 18 May.
Western Australia will make announcements on Sunday before New South Wales and Victoria reveal their plans on Monday.
The ACT will allow gatherings of 10 from Saturday but has not said when stage one will commence fully.
Australian National University professor Peter Collignon warned coronavirus outbreaks were to be expected as Australia transitioned through the three-step plan, The Daily Telegraph reported.
‘We are going to still have clusters, we will see things like nursing home breakouts I would presume, we’ll see workplaces like the abattoir for instance,’ he said.
‘To me it looks like a good plan that keeps to the basic principles – which I don’t think we can compromise too much – but it’s a way forward and I’ll be watching and seeing how it goes as we move forward.’
Australians will not be attending festivals anytime soon. The third stage of the government’s three-step plan only allows groups of 100 to gather
The current national baseline rules will be relaxed in three stages, with less risky activities such as sport and dining out starting before more dangerous ones such as clubbing and going to the cinema
The new ‘roadmap’ – which will be reviewed every three weeks – will only guide state and territory leaders, who will then decide when to implement each stage in their own jurisdictions
Prof Collignon is also wary there may be more cases during winter.
Despite the loosening of restrictions, Prof Collignon reiterated that Australians must continue to follow social distancing measures.
This includes keeping a 1.5 metre distance from others and practicing good hand hygiene.
‘This is mainly transmitted via droplets and the big deal about droplets is they drop and that’s why the 1.5m (rule) is there,’ he said.
The head of Australia’s peak tourism body has cautiously welcomed the staged easing of coronavirus restrictions, but says the real boost will only occur once state borders are reopened.
Australian Tourism Industry Council executive director Simon Westaway said the prime minister’s announcement on Friday is great news for the sector.
‘All the signs are pointing to green shoots of domestic travel from June,’ he said.
Mr Westaway said while there was a long way to go before tourism returned to normal, members had already expressed their excitement about the plan for the way out.
The three-step plan to relaxing lockdown in Australia
* Five visitors allowed at home
* Gatherings of up 10 in business and public places
* Work from home if it works for you and your employer
* Small restaurants, cafes and shopping open with max of 10 customers
* Home sales and in-person auctions resume
* Children back in classrooms
* Libraries, community centres, playgrounds and outdoor boot camps open
* Local and regional travel resume
* Gatherings of 20 people in your home, business and public places
* Work from home if it works for you and your employer
* Gyms, beauty, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks open with COVID-safe plans
* Organised community sport allowed
* Caravan and camping grounds reopen
* Some interstate travel
* States and territories may allow larger numbers in some circumstances
* Gatherings of up to 100 people
* Return to workplaces
* Pubs, clubs, nightclubs, food courts, saunas and some gaming venues open
* All interstate travel resumes
* Consider cross-Tasman, Pacific island and international students travel
* States and territories may allow larger numbers in some circumstances
‘What’s really important about today is that there has been a level of certainty put out there,’ he said.
‘The level of uncertainty has been a big part of the angst for our industry.’
But Australian Hotels Association says the road map to recovery is inconsistent and could force some hotels and pubs shut permanently.
‘Hotels have been left blindsided,’ chief executive Stephen Ferguson said on Friday.
‘They basically will not be able to re-open their businesses until stage three of the recovery process.’
Mr Ferguson said the plan failed to account for venues with large floor space and most would be forced to remain closed.
‘We are told only 10 people can sit and have a meal in a pub restaurant area even if that area could safely socially distance 50 or 100,’ he said
‘Why can only 10 people be allowed in a dining area of a huge venue that could safely socially distance 120?’
Under the first step, gatherings of up to ten people will be allowed and cafes and restaurants can re-open with a maximum of ten people at one time
People are cramming into supermarkets and work side-by-side on building sites, he said.
‘Where is the consistency?’
He warned that many operators were already struggling with mounting debts after being closed for more than a month and the recovery plan could force some to close their doors permanently.
‘Hotels have done the right thing, put the health of staff and patrons first the moment this pandemic hit – and we will continue to do so – but common sense needs to prevail here too,’ he said.
The government’s plan causes further uncertainty for sex workers, with brothels and strip clubs to remained closed throughout step three.
A crowdfunding page, launched by the union Scarlet Alliance, said sex workers continue to face uncertainty during the pandemic.
‘If sex workers can’t work we have no income,’ the page says.
‘Sex workers don’t get sick of holiday pay.’
Swimmers are seen at the Nightcliff Swimming Pool in Darwin. The Northern Territory allowed outdoor non-contact sport from May 1
Under the first step, gatherings of up to ten people will be allowed and cafes and restaurants can re-open with a maximum of ten people at one time.
‘It will see children back in classrooms and in playgrounds in their communities. Golfers back on the green. Lap swimmers back in the pool. Boot camps back in the parks. Retail and small cafes and restaurants reopening,’ Mr Morrison said.
The second stage will allow gatherings of up to 20 people. Gyms, cinemas, and beauty therapies can restart as well as community sport and some inter-state travel.
Working from home will still be encouraged where possible under steps one and two.
Step three involves opening up most of the economy with gatherings of up to 100 people and pubs and clubs back open.
‘Pubs and clubs with some restrictions will be open. And also possibly gaming venues,’ Mr Morrison said.
Queensland will move to stage one on Friday May 15
A week-long countdown is on for the reopening of Queensland restaurants, libraries, pools and beauty salons.
Personal training sessions, retail shopping, weddings with up to 10 people, and funerals with up to 20 inside or 30 outside, are also allowed from May 15.
Bars and gaming facilities will remain closed in the first phase of a staged easing of the state’s lockdown, but up to 10 people at a time can dine in at restaurants, pubs, licensed clubs, RSL clubs and hotels will be allowed.
Recreational travel of up to 150km from home will also be allowed.
Those rules apply differently in the outback, where locals can travel up to 500km from home, and up to 20 can dine in an eatery at a time.
The Prime Minister warned that outbreaks will happen but, in a message to state premiers who are reluctant to relax restrictions, he said: ‘Outbreaks are not a reason to slow things down.’
‘Outbreaks are going to happen. All Premiers and Chief Ministers understand that. And so it’s how you respond to them,’ he said.
‘There will be risks, challenges, outbreaks and more cases, there will be setbacks. Not everything will go to plan. There will be inconsistencies. There will undoubtedly be some human error.
‘But we cannot allow our fear of going backwards from stopping us from going forward.’
The Prime Minster hopes stage three can be in place by July.
It will be up to the states and territories to decide when beaches can reopen for sunbathing. Pictured: Surfers’ Paradise
A ‘roadmap’ showing the way out of lockdown was presented to Australians on Friday. Pictured: Volleyball on Sydney’s Bondi Beach in March
South Australia moves to stage one on Monday 11 May
Outdoor dining, community centres and sports training can resume across South Australia from Monday as the state begins to lift coronavirus restrictions.
More people will be able to attend funerals and universities and TAFE colleges will also be allowed to resume face-to-face learning, Premier Steven Marshall says.
Other changes as recommended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison following Friday’s national cabinet meeting include opening public libraries and swimming pools, and the resumption of open house inspections and home auctions.
In almost all cases, numbers will be limited to 10 people at a time.
However, SA will allow up to 20 people to attend a funeral indoors and up to 30 people outdoors.
‘Life as we know it will never be the same. But we have come a long way in the last eight weeks,’ Mr Marshall said.
The Treasury estimates the plan can restore 850,000 jobs – after one million were lost due to the lockdowns.
Some 250,000 jobs will be restored in step one, 275,000 in step two and 325,000 in step three, the treasury says.
Commentators have urged state governments to follow the plan and ease restrictions.
There have been only four coronavirus deaths nationwide in the past week yet millions of Australians are still banned from leaving their homes under some of the toughest restrictions in the world.
Gideon Rozner, Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs, said: ‘Today is the line in the sand for state governments to begin to end the lockdown.
‘There is no longer an excuse to delay reopening the economy and rebuilding Australia.’
NSW and Victoria have signalled a cautious approach with outbreaks active in a Sydney nursing home and a Melbourne abattoir.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said rules in Australia’s most populated state will not be changing until after the weekend.
New South Wales will not relax any coronavirus restrictions until next week, Premier Gladys Berejiklian (pictured today) said
State and federal leaders will decide on what rules are to be eased on Friday at a crucial national cabinet meeting. Cafes are pegged as one of the first places likely to reopen
Since Friday, two adults and their dependent children are allowed to visit another household in NSW – but this limit will not be changed.
‘I want to manage expectations and say if national cabinet does suggest easing of restrictions, they won’t be able to be made in time for Mothers’ Day,’ the Premier said.
‘Two adults and children can visit any mother at any one time and a mother can accept multiple visits a day so long as there is not too many people for each visit,’ she added.
The news brought a mixed reaction from NSW residents. Some called the Premier a ‘dictator’ and demanded an end to ‘draconian’ lockdown – while others applauded her caution and said she was doing a ‘wonderful’ job.
NSW One Nation Leader Mark Latham told Daily Mail Australia the Premier’s decision not to ease the rules was ‘very foolish’.
He said: ‘We have footy teams training in NSW. Some of the worst rule breakers in society have been rewarded while hard-working small businesses are locked down and going broke with a record rise in unemployment.’
Gatherings of more than two people are allowed under new national guidelines – but NSW will not be following them straight away
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said no restrictions will be relaxed in his state – and told reporters that he will not be visiting his own mother on Mother’s Day.
‘I have no announcements on restrictions. I can tell you what I will be doing on Mother’s Day, I will not be visiting my mum. I would very much like to but these are unprecedented times,’ he said.
Mr Andrews said some countries that eased restrictions early were forced into stricter lockdown when fresh outbreaks erupted.
‘The last thing we want to do is to ease off any of those restrictions without a sense of confidence that we are truly on top of this,’ he told reporters.
Mr Andrews, who came under fire from the federal education minister on Sunday for not getting children back to school, has ruled that all teaching in term two will be from home.
Victoria as seen a recent spike in cases due to a cluster at an abattoir. Another 13 cases of coronavirus were on Thursday linked to Cedar Meats in Melbourne’s west, bringing the cluster total to 62.
The Cedar Meats facility (pictured) in Brooklyn, Melbourne is linked with 62 cases of the deadly disease
WA is at the other end of the scale with low infection rates and hard border closures giving the state a better starting point to take the next steps.
Premier Mark McGowan said he expected national cabinet to provide baseline restrictions for states to work within
‘Clearly Western Australia has the opportunity to be more economically progressive than other states,’ he told reporters in Perth.
States are expected to unveil plans giving residents more detail from Sunday onwards.
Queensland is allowing groups of five to visit other houses from Mother’s Day, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk framing it as a reward for achieving good infection results.
Mr Morrison met via video with leaders from Israel, Denmark, Singapore, Greece, Czech Republic and Norway on Thursday night.
The First Movers COVID Group, which include countries who have been relatively successful in containing the virus, discussed economic restarts, scientific cooperation and managing outbreaks.
The prime minister also reiterated his push for an inquiry into the response to coronavirus, which has strained relations with China.
There have been 97 deaths from coronavirus in Australia, while more than 6,000 of the 6,897 people infected have recovered.
National baseline rules will be relaxed in three stages with less risky activities such as sport and dining out starting before more dangerous ones such as clubbing and going to the cinema. Pictured: People wearing masks walk past close nightclub Star Bar in Sydney in March