Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed the three steps we need to take before we can relax tight restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Morrison said Australia had made real progress over the past month getting the virus under control.
But now the attention has been turned to the road to recovery as half the people who have contracted coronavirus in Australia overcome it.
Mr Morrison said are now three steps that need to be put in place before restrictions will be loosened, which would happen in four weeks at the earliest.
Broader testing regime
Mr Morrison announced a more extensive surveillance and testing regime needed to be put in place before the government would consider lifting restrictions.
“So beyond those who are symptomatic, if we are able to move to a different phase when it comes to restrictions, we need an even broader testing regime than we have at this point,” he said.
“Now, we have one of, if not the most, extensive testing regimes in the world today.
“But we need to do even better than that to make sure that we can have greater confidence that when we move to a lesser restriction environment we can have confidence we can identify any outbreaks very, very quickly and respond to them.”
Greater tracing capabilities
The PM commended state governments for the last several weeks for boosting the capability to trace cases.
“They are a team of Sherlock Holmes ... they are doing a fantastic job on tacking down these cases,” he said.
“We need to lift that to an industrial capability and do that using technology and we need to do that as soon as we possibly can.”
Mr Morrison said they needed the support of Australians to increase the tracing capability.
“If we can get that in place, get the tracing capability up from where it is, that will give us more options and Australians more freedoms.”
Isolate outbreak clusters
Mr Morrison said the Australian Defence Force was currently working with state authorities in northwest Tasmania to contain a local outbreak.
“There will be other outbreaks, in other parts of the country, and in all states and territories,” he said.
“We need that ability to move very fast to be able to lockdown an outbreak where it occurs and make sure it does not transmit more broadly within the community.
“[If] we are going to move to an environment with fewer restrictions, then you need these things in place.”
Restrictions remain for at least four weeks
The prime minister said the National Cabinet would review the restrictions in four weeks time and whether the steps had been achieved.
“A positive thing to say is we have often found ourselves, as we have now, in a better place ahead of time,” he said.
“And if we are able to achieve that well and good – but we want to be very clear with Australians, baseline restrictions we have in place at the moment, there are no plans to change those for the next four weeks.”
Mr Morrison said states that had gone beyond the baseline restrictions and put in tighter rules, it will be up to them to make their own decisions about whether they want to change any of those current arrangements.
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