Coronavirus: State-by-state guide to Australia's easing of lockdown restrictions

Tom Flanagan
News Reporter

Yahoo News Australia's Life After Lockdown series investigates what life will be like after coronavirus restrictions.

Friday will mark the halfway point of a four-week period Scott Morrison outlined for reviewing Australia’s coronavirus restrictions.

However as states and territories continue to record extremely low numbers of daily coronavirus cases – some with none at all – and edge tantalisingly closer to eradicating the virus, state and territory leaders are starting to ease restrictions in a bid to bring back some level of normality for residents.

NSW

On Tuesday, Gladys Berejiklian outlined three areas where the state government will ease restrictions over the coming weeks.

Offering relief to those who have been struggling in isolation, she added social visits to the list of essential outings, meaning a maximum of two adults accompanied by children can visit a household of multiple residents from Friday, May 1.

She also referred to the state’s plan to begin its return-to-school plan on May 11.

This involves children going to school initially for one day a week before gradually increasing attendance in the coming weeks.

And while there was no specific lifting of rules, Ms Berejkilian moved to clarify the government’s stance on retail shopping.

On Monday she said it was up to residents to decide what is essential to them when it comes to shopping, and on Tuesday she urged more shops to reopen to kickstart the badly-depleted economy, while reminding shops and customers to continue to adhere to social distancing.

Gladys Berejkilian has called for more shops to reopen to boost the state's economy. Source: AAP

“We encourage people to buy what they need and want,” she said.

On Tuesday, NSW recorded a further five COVID-19 cases and has 3,009 accumulative cases, 729 of those still active.

Victoria

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews has notably been the most cautious state leader amid the pandemic, even threatening to ramp up restrictions further when others considered easing them.

He has so far failed to hint at what would be lifted first, and seems dead set on avoiding temptation to lifting restrictions any earlier than May 11.

The state has embarked on a testing blitz and hopes to perform 10,000 tests across the next two weeks.

This ramped up approach aligns with Scott Morrison’s insistence that restrictions should only be eased if more testing, better contact tracing and better responses to outbreaks could be ensured.

He said on Tuesday parents must assume students will be taught term two online for its entirety.

Victoria confirmed a further two cases on Tuesday, with 54 active cases from a total of 1351.

Victoria continues to be tough with its restrictions. Source: AAP

Queensland

“Well, this is another zero day for Queensland and my favourite days are zero days,” Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said on Tuesday.

It was another day of zero cases for the state, a prolonged period of a low number of cases that has allowed the state to ease its current restrictions as of Saturday.

From the weekend households will be able to go outside for recreational activities such as fishing, boating and picnics.

They can travel by car to areas no further than 50kms from their address.

However households cannot meet up with others outside, and those by themselves can meet up with only one other person.

Some national parks will reopen however campgrounds will remain closed, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

Shopping for non-essential items will also recommence, she said.

Ms Palaszczuk said a decision on schools would not be made before May 15.

Western Australia

Premier Mark McGowan made a significant announcement on Sunday, with eased restrictions coming into effect on Monday.

The big change across the state was 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.

He said the new rule didn’t mean residents could now host “wild parties”.

The rule also apply for weddings which see their capacity go from five to 10, and will be in effect for house viewings and auctions.

Recreational activities have also returned across the state with activities such as picnics, boating, hiking, camping and group exercise given as examples by the state government.

School students in Western Australia will return to classrooms from April 29 when term two begins.

However Mr McGowan said he understood the concerns of some parents and said no one would be forced to attend.

South Australia

South Australia isn’t considering any early easing of restrictions however the state had refrained from implementing some of the tougher measures seen across the country.

For example, the state never banned gatherings of three or more, remaining at 10-person gatherings throughout the outbreak’s peak, which are now allowed in Western Australia.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier reiterated the state hadn’t closed national parks or beaches either.

The state has gone five days without a confirmed case of coronavirus and South Australian government says 95 per cent of its accumulative total of 438 have now recovered from the virus.

"We will be looking at the restrictions and looking at adjusting them in South Australia," Professor Spurrier said.

"But we need to do this in a very staged and sensible way, looking at the evidence from around the world."

A relaxation of outdoor activity restrictions is expected to be eased first.

Beaches in South Australia have remained open. Source: AAP

Tasmania

While Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein said he would not be forced into a “knee jerk reaction” when it came to easing coronavirus restrictions, he hinted on Tuesday at the possibility of relief for some as soon as next week.

It’s no surprise Mr Gutwein is taking a cautious approach after the state’s North-West is home to one of Australia’s major outbreaks at two hospitals.

That region has faced tougher restrictions than the rest of the state, which has seen many retailers closed and stringent lockdowns implemented on residents.

However Mr Gutwein said they would be reconsidered on Sunday.

“It has been enormously hard for the businesses in that area and for the employees to have additional restrictions placed on them,” he said.

“Obviously we will be guided by public health as we move towards the end of this week, and to where we can hopefully lift those restrictions on Sunday. But, again, we will take advice from public health.”

Any relaxation of restrictions are not expected for Tasmania as a whole until the National Cabinet delivers its next verdict on what can be eased.

ACT

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has stressed he has no interest in competing with other states and territories in regards to lifting restrictions and stressed any changes would be gradual.

He said Canberra’s residents should know by Friday which restrictions the government intends to lift first following the National Cabinet’s meeting.

Mr Barr pointed out some restrictions in place in other states were never implemented in the ACT, for example households were already allowed to visit other households if social distancing was maintained.

The ACT has only two active cases of coronavirus, neither of which are in hospital.

Northern Territory

The territory announced this week that at noon on Friday, residents will be allowed to enter most state government parks and that camping, fishing and swimming will be allowed.

Kakadu and Uluru will not reopen.

The NT has only 28 cases, five active, and hasn’t had a confirmed case in more than three weeks.

There has also been no community transmission.

Gatherings remain limited to 10 across the territory, and on Thursday the territory government will outline a clear path that will lead the NT out of restrictions, including reopening most businesses and resuming community sport.

On Monday, Mr Gunner said he expects cafes, pubs, gyms and restaurants to reopen in some sort of capacity by June.

“Essentially the new normal will be in place during June,” he told the ABC.

He stressed mass gathering events he labelled “super spreader type of events” were a long way off from returning, and reopening borders would be among the last restrictions to be eased.

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