Coronavirus: What 'step one' of relaxed restrictions looks like

Nick Whigham
·Assistant News Editor
·4-min read

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed the roadmap to COVIDSafe Australia, saying the first step will allow Australians to gather in larger numbers and resume travel around their state and territory.

A three-step plan to “get us back to where we need to be as quickly as we can” was outlined on Friday following a National Cabinet meeting with state and territory leaders.

Mr Morrison outlined a three-phased emergence from lockdown with the first step beginning in days.

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Prime Minister Morrison outlined the first stage of emerging from lockdown.

Australia’s roadmap back – step one

  • Five visitors allowed at home

  • Gatherings of up to 10 in business and public places

  • Work from home if it works for you and your employer

  • Small restaurants, cafes and shopping open

  • Home sales and in-person auctions resume

  • Children back in classrooms

  • Libraries, community centres, playgrounds and outdoor boot camps open

  • Local and regional travel resume

  • Up to 30 people allowed at outdoor funerals

  • Up to 10 people at weddings

“Step one will enable greater connection with friends and family, allowing gatherings up to 10 people, and five guests in your own home,” Mr Morrison said.

Workers will be able to return to the office but can continue to work form home under arrangements with their employer.

“Working from home, if it works for you, and your employer,” Mr Morrison said. “That's a difference in emphasis.”

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School classrooms will once again be full throughout the week under the first step.

Certain community sports will also be able to resume.

“Golfers back on the green. Lap swimmers back in the pool. Boot catch camps back in the parks,” the prime minister said.

Retail businesses and hospitality venues such as cafes and restaurants will be able to open, and will no longer be restricted to only serving takeaway.

However strict distancing measures will still apply if cafes and restaurants are to have seated guests. They will only be able to have a maximum of 10 patrons with one person per four square metres.

“That means many won't be able to open, but many doing takeaway may want to put up enough distance tables to start gently serving 10 people at a time,” chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said Friday.

Some libraries and community centres can open, “but again with only small numbers of people” and the same distancing rules.

Intrastate recreational travel will again commence, giving much needed relief to local businesses that rely on regional tourism as residents are allowed to move around their state or territory.

“[Step one] will see easing of restrictions for funerals with up to 30 attendees outdoors, and 10 at weddings,” Mr Morrison said.

“Premiers and chief ministers have asked me to stress there should be no expectation of step one starting on day one,” he added.

Following the commencement of the first step among the states and territories in the coming days and weeks, governments will wait and see the impact of looser restrictions and whether or not coronavirus case numbers tick up significantly.

If health authorities are able to stay on top of the spread of the virus, and suppress a second wave, then the states and territories will continue to move through the next stage of opening.

“Step one is cautious. It's gentle,” Mr Murphy said.

“It's not doing too much at once because we're in uncharted territory.”

States and territories to move at their own pace

There will be differences between the states and territories in how fast they move through the three steps depending on the number of local coronavirus cases.

“States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances,” Mr Morrison said.

“We cannot allow our fear of going backward from stopping us going forward,” he added.

Queensland will commence step one on Saturday May 16, state premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Friday afternoon.

South Australia will begin step one from Monday, May 11.

The Victoria and NSW premiers have not yet signalled when step one will officially commence in their states.

Mr Morrison said Australia should work through the three steps by July.

Cafes and restaurants will no longer be limited to takeaway. Source: AAP
Cafes and restaurants will no longer be limited to takeaway. Source: AAP

Ahead of the meeting, Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments would make decisions about relaxing restrictions based on case numbers and their unique circumstances.

Already, there are different rules in place for different regions around the country.

Victoria has so far retained the most hardline approach, while NSW has signalled it will also move cautiously, with several active cases in both states.

Queensland is allowing groups of five to visit other houses from Sunday for Mother's Day, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk framing it as a reward for achieving good infection results.

The NT, WA and SA are among the least restrictive jurisdictions, while Tasmania and the ACT are yet to wind rules back significantly.

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