'It's baby steps': The lockdown rule that could be lifted next

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

Millions of Australians working from home could soon return to the office as federal and state leaders thrash out ways to reignite the economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will chair Tuesday's National Cabinet meeting with state premiers and territory chief ministers.

The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission will provide a high-level briefing on virus-safe workplaces as leaders mull relaxing economic and social restrictions.

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews has been working across a range of sectors to prepare plans for a safe return to work.

Pictured are workers walking through Sydney's Martin Place before the pandemic. Source: AAP
Office workers could be returning to CBDs across the country soon. Source: AAP

"We are very keen to get restrictions eased but to do that sensibly and based on the best medical advice that there is available," she told reporters on the Gold Coast.

"It's baby steps to make sure that we are back on track as quickly and as effectively and as safely as we can."

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will join the National Cabinet meeting to discuss the creation of a trans-Tasman travel bubble.

"The fact that we're even in a position as countries to have this conversation is a huge advantage to both of us," she said.

However, international travel limits are not expected to be lifted soon.

Australia's coronavirus death toll is at 96, with less than 1000 active cases from the 6825 detected since the pandemic erupted.

Low infection rates prompted governments to agree to bring forward a decision on lifting restrictions to this week.

Friday's National Cabinet meeting looms as crucial to easing baseline rules, with the economic cost increasingly in focus amid positive health outcomes.

On Sunday, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told reporters gathering sizes and sport will be put forward at Friday’s meeting.

A City of Sydney notice about automated pedestrian crossings at Martin Place in Sydney, Tuesday, March 24, 2020.
Leaders are looking to reignite the economy by sending people back to work. Source: AAP

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show 94 per cent of the arts and recreation sector has been affected by shutdown measures.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will address the National Press Club in Canberra, outlining the path to recovery and reform in the post-virus landscape.

Unemployment is forecast to hit 10 per cent, while millions are relying on the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme and the boosted dole.

More than 4.5 million people have downloaded the COVIDSafe tracing app but the government wants millions more to sign on.

CSIRO is testing two vaccines – from the US and the UK – sparking hopes one could be available later this year or early in 2021.

"It's entirely possible that by the end of this year or early next year, we will have a vaccine for COVID-19," Ms Andrews said.

"That's particularly important because quite frankly, until such time as we have a vaccine, life is not going to return to normal."

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