As states and territories weigh up their options in terms of relaxing coronavirus restrictions, Western Australia made a significant move on Monday, implementing a series of changes for its residents.
Premier Mark McGowan announced the commencement of a “cautious relaxation” on Sunday which rolls out today.
The big change across the state is the removal of the two-person gathering rule, which has now been eased to a maximum of 10 people.
The new restriction is in place for indoors and outdoors, however Mr McGowan stressed social distancing rules, where people need to remain 1.5 metres from others, must remain, alongside good hygiene.
“The 10 person rule really requires people just to do the right thing and don't have wild parties, don't do stupid things that mean we have to clamp down again, just do the right thing for your neighbours and your community,” he said.
"The focus and thinking behind these decisions is to ensure family and friends can remain connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The rule will now also apply for weddings, doubling capacity at such events, and will be in effect for house viewings and auctions.
Picnics, boating, hiking, camping and group exercise return
Western Australians will now also be allowed to leave home for non-contact recreational activities.
Activities such as picnics, boating, hiking, camping and group exercise are examples given by the state government.
Public playgrounds, outside gyms and skate parks will remain closed however.
Other restrictions related to the hospitality industry and travel bans remain in place.
On Sunday, Western Australia recorded no coronavirus cases for a 24-hour period, with just five cases recorded over the last nine days.
"Our numbers may be low but we need to keep it that way," he told reporters.
The state has confirmed a total of 549 coronavirus cases, but only 55 remain active.
There are currently 16 people in Perth hospitals, including four in intensive care.
Elective surgery returns nationally
Hospitals will also recommence elective surgeries postponed because of coronavirus on Monday as the rate of new infections continues to drop.
Category two and some category three elective surgeries will recommence as of today.
It includes IVF, dental work, screening programs, all child surgeries, joint replacements, eye procedures, endoscopies and colonoscopies.
Elective surgeries were postponed last month to free up beds and save personal protective equipment amid fears the coronavirus would overwhelm the hospital system.
Queensland restrictions to ease next weekend
Family picnics and weekend drives are back and national parks will reopen in Queensland from next weekend after a reduction in confirmed cases over the weekend.
The state confirmed just three new cases on Monday, with 1033 cases overall.
Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk says the easing of stay-at-home restrictions would start at midnight on Friday.
It means from Saturday, people can travel 50km from their residence to visit parks, have a picnic and jet ski, while shopping for non-essential items is also permitted.
However, the premier has warned that movement was "limited to members of your own household".
"We will be able to lift some of the stay-at-home restrictions and...we really need the public to 100 per cent co-operate." she told reporters on Sunday.
"If we do see mass gatherings, I will not hesitate to clamp back down."
She said the 50km limit was to avoid large scale movements of people between places like "Cairns to Townsville" and borders would remain closed.
Northern Territory parks to reopen
Parks and reserves across the Northern Territory will reopen from the coming weekend as Chief Minister Michael Gunner begins lifting restrictions imposed because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Gunner will reveal more details on other moves later this week which is expected to include a reopening of some businesses in June, including cafes and gyms, but under strict rules.
"In the coming weeks, the Territory will gradually transition to a new normal where Territorians can get back to business, back to work, and back to enjoying the Territory lifestyle, while also staying safe from coronavirus," he said on his Facebook page on Monday.
"Territorians will have the opportunity to safely spend this weekend camping, swimming or walking through our beautiful parks and reserves and enjoying the Territory lifestyle that we all love.”
NSW residents can shop if stores are open
While NSW recorded only two additional cases on Monday, Premier Gladys Berejiklian stressed the state would not be following suit with others which have begun relaxing restrictions.
"Yes we want to ease restrictions, yes we want people to have a greater sense of normality in their lives, but that comes with obvious consequences," she said.
Yet clarifying essential trips, she noted those in NSW were free to visit shops and make purchases where possible.
"We've essentially said if a shop is open you can go and buy something as long a you practice social distancing," she said.
"It's not for me to decide what's essential for you to buy.
"If you need to buy a new bed for your child or new shoes, that's for you to make that decision."
Victoria’s current restrictions until at least May 11
On Monday, Victoria recorded one new case of coronavirus amid ramped up testing, as authorities warn there will no lifting of restrictions until May 11.
The state's total infections remain at 1349 cases after one positive case was transferred to New South Wales.
Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday Victoria will not follow in the footsteps of other states in easing some social distancing measures, despite a falling infection count.
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