September 16, 2021


Africa's Media Giant

COVID-19: Australia adopts three-step easing of restrictions

Australia has announced a three-step road map to relax coronavirus-related restrictions and re-open the country’s economy by July.

“Today, we are putting Australia in a position to go forward. It is our goal to move through all of these steps to achieve that COVID-safe economy in July of this year. In this plan, we walk before we run,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in Canberra on Friday.

In the first phase of relaxing coronavirus restrictions, Australia will allow the opening of cafes, restaurants, shops, libraries, swimming pools, and playgrounds.

People will be allowed to have up to five people visit them at home, and public and business gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.

Travel within states for non-essential reasons will also be allowed.

Funerals will be allowed 30 mourners if outdoors and 20 mourners if indoors, while weddings and religious gatherings will allow ten guests.

In all the gatherings, contact details need to be recorded.

Stage two will allow 20-person gatherings, as well as gyms, beauty parlours, museums, and cinemas to open. Some interstate travel will also be allowed.

Stage three will allow 100-person gatherings and open pubs, clubs, nightclubs, food courts, and saunas.

The national cabinet, which includes the premiers and chief ministers of Australia’s states and territories, agreed on the proposed national framework, Morrison said.

He did not announce the exact dates for each step as it is up to each state and territory to decide how to introduce the steps, but he did say the plan will be reviewed every three weeks.

Australia has more than 6,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with fewer than 900 active cases.

There have been 97 related fatalities.

Morrison said the government will also consider in stage three allowing travel to and from New Zealand and the Pacific Islands with some restrictions, as well as allowing international students to travel.

But, he said, he “can’t see international travel happening… in the foreseeable future.”

Setbacks and renewed outbreaks should be expected, but the fear of going backwards should not stop the country from moving forwards, Morrison said.

He said the easing of restrictions would restore 850,000 jobs in the coming months.

The government has launched the contact-tracing “COVIDSafe app” to tackle the coronavirus, in spite of some privacy and security concerns.

Morrison said Friday more than 5.3 million Australians have already downloaded the app.

He said the usage of the app would help in the loosening of restrictions.

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