Australia will implement a three-step reopening plan to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic. The government will ease social distancing measures.
According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement, the three-step plan of reopening the economy of Australia will begin by July. The government will start relaxing social distancing measures that aim to curb the spread of the virus.
As part of its restrictions, Australia prohibited public events and non-essential travel in late March. This move tamed local transmission, and the outbreak is broadly under control.
Data from Johns Hopkins University revealed that there were only 19 new infections on Thursday. The total number of COVID-19 cases in Australia reached 6,913, with 97 deaths.
Morrison said during a press conference that it was time for reopening.
“The next step beyond this will be to build confidence and momentum that will see our economy get back up and running and get Australians back up on their feet and moving ahead with confidence,” said Morrison.
Morrison stressed the three stages that will guide the relaxing of restrictions in Australia. The first stage promotes wider connections between friends and family. This means that more people can gather at home and visit each other.
The prime minister said that students may be able to return to school. Moreover, restaurants, retail stores, and cafes can reopen.
Thirty people can attend funerals while 10 can become visitors during a wedding.
The second stage allows bigger gatherings of up to 20 people in several venues. These are galleries and cinemas, while organized community sport events and beauty parlors can also resume operations.
The final stage allows the assembly of up to 100 people in events. Interstate travel can also resume.
According to Morrison, no strict timeline will apply to the measures. States and territories can implement them at their own pace. However, the goal should be about moving through all of the stages to achieve a “COVID-safe economy” by July of 2020.
With a decreasing number of coronavirus cases, Australia is not the first country to ease restrictions. Countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain had started going back to normal. China eased several of its preventative measures.
Morrison said that the restrictions that took place for a more than a month made great damage to Australia’s economy.
Meanwhile, more than one million Australians already applied for unemployment allowance since the restrictions took effect. Another five million will get payments from the government to avoid losing their work.
Morrison revealed that another million are making use of their retirement savings early to cope with the economic fallout.
“So many Australians are hurting right now. Lives turned upside down. Painful separation form their loved ones. Livelihoods that they’ve spent a lifetime building, stripped away,” he said.
But Morrison emphasized that Australia showed they could come together in times of crisis. “Every Australian matters, every life, every job, every future.”
Coronavirus cases in Australia
Australia reported 6,762 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 92 fatalities and 5,720 recoveries, according to the federal health authority.
“We’re continuing to do very well around Australia to suppress the virus and we have well and truly flattened the curve of cases and new infections,” a spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health told CNN in a statement.
“Safety has been our fundamental focus and the success of our suppression strategy has meant Australia is in a very similar (place) to New Zealand, which has stated its strategy is aimed at elimination.”