Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled the long-awaited plan today after a meeting with the nation’s premiers and chief ministers, telling Australians “we’ve been fighting the virus and we are winning”.
“Today, we move ahead with reopening our economy and our society, with a clear plan, and a clear framework, that shows Australians the road ahead,” the PM said.
“We cannot allow our fear of going backwards from stopping us from going forwards.”
Each state will be assessed on its success, which will determine when to move forward.
While we can now expect the restaurants and cafes, libraries and playgrounds to reopen and gatherings of 10 people outside of home allowed, it’ll be a little while yet before all Australians can return to work and 100 people can come together.
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Allowing travel to other states, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and international student travel is also a third-stage consideration.
“In step three, we’re hopeful that there will be more travel around the country. And we may start to get some domestic tourism again,” Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy told reporters.
Food courts, saunas, nightclubs, bars, gaming venues and bathhouses will be among the last facilities to reopen.
Seated restaurants in pubs and clubs could start in stage one under the 10-person limit, Prof Murphy said.
But, “the general view is that, with the exception of the Northern Territory, which is moving forward more quickly, that it will be level three before bars, nightclub-type venues and gaming-type venues without seated dining would be open”.
The PM said there was still more work to be done on what stage three would mean.
“This will become clearer as we move through the first two steps. So there will be more work to do on step three,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“But most workers, by then, will be back in the workplace. Interstate travel will likely resume. Pubs and clubs with some restrictions will be open. And also possibly gaming venues.”
Mr Morrison said the second and third stages “will get greater definition as we move through the success of step one”.
According to an analysis presented by Mr Morrison, the first stage of relaxing social distancing restrictions is expected to boost Australia’s economy by more than $3 billion per month and restore 250,000 jobs. Stage three will boost the economy by $3.3 billion per month and restore about 325,000 jobs.
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It is the “aspiration” of Australia’s premiers and chief ministers that by July Australia will have moved through the three steps, Mr Morrison said.
“The pace, though, will totally be up to the states and territories. They’ll be responsible for setting their own timetable and communicating that to their citizens and residents in their own states and territories. Premiers and chief ministers have asked me to stress there should be no expectation of step one starting on day one.”
Medical evidence suggesting further easing won’t present an undue risk, widespread testing to identify community transmission, and public health actions to trace cases and trap local outbreaks will be used as the criteria when moving from one stage to the next. Mr Morrison said the plan will be reviewed by the National Cabinet every three weeks.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. We’ve got a plan to get there. Done the work to get there, Australians have done the work to get where we are and I want to thank them most of all,” he said.