Health experts have warned that the nation’s success with flattening the coronavirus curve is set to be tested as the nation lifts restrictions and more cases should be expected.
As national cabinet meets today to review the impact of lifting restrictions, international experts have warned emerging from lockdown holds substantial risks, and the need for social distancing increased hygiene and handwashing remains.
RELATED: State-by-state guide on current restrictions
Perhaps the most chilling warning came from Dr Mike Ryan, a former trauma surgeon, and the epidemiologist now leading the World Health Organisation’s fight to contain COVID-19.
“This virus may never go away… I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear.”
The WHO’s Dr Mike Ryan says that while Covid-19 may become endemic, therapies and prevention methods could help us “come to terms” with the virus. pic.twitter.com/HecRED36sH
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) May 14, 2020
“It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” he told a press conference from Geneva.
“There is some magical thinking going on that lockdowns work perfectly and that unlocking lockdowns will go great. Both are fraught with dangers.
“I don’t think anyone can predict when or if this disease will disappear. We may have a shot at eliminating this virus but that vaccine will have to be available, it will have to be highly effective, it will have to be made available to everyone and we’ll have to use it.”
‘This virus may never go away’, warns WHO official pic.twitter.com/4mSWzkkdlz
— The Independent (@Independent) May 14, 2020
Pubs, restaurants, cafes, massage parlours, churches, nails salons and yoga studios will re-open for business in the Northern Territory on Friday from noon.
But patrons will only be able to get a beer if they buy a meal and they can only spend two hours at the pub before they will be booted out for the next round of customers.
In Sydney and across NSW pubs will reopen on Friday but only for meals and there will be a limit of 10 customers at any one time. Bars and gaming facilities remain closed.
Other restrictions to be lifted on Friday in NSW include allowing up to five people to visit another household and outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian admits that cases will rise as the restrictions are slowly lifted.
“Please don’t expect the handful of cases we’re getting every day to continue next week and beyond,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Because the increase in activity does mean extra cases and it does mean we need extra people coming forward to get tested. That is so important, I can’t stress that enough.”
“People have been asking me the last few days, ‘Are you worried about what Friday and beyond might look like?’” Ms Berejiklian said.
“Of course we are. Of course, I am. Because we need to make sure that everybody practices good social distancing.”
“Please be careful.”
Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth has two pieces of advice for ‘Freedom Friday’ and beyond: don’t hug anyone and don’t forget to wash your hands.
“My messages, if you are aware of what the maximum limit is, more power to you because every Australian should be aware of what the limit of gatherings is within their state and territory,’’ he said.
“The key is, if you are invited to a friend ‘s place this weekend to catch up, and I can tell you, everybody in Australia wants to increase their social contact at the moment, but the message has to remain the same. If you are feeling at all unwell with a cough or a cold, ring up and apologise, defer
“Make sure you perform excellent hand hygiene and when you go to your mates place, even it is your best mate you haven’t seen them for weeks, don’t give them a hug, we have to change those habits.”
Dr Coatsworth also urged Australians to get tested right away if symptoms appear.
“Any symptom of respiratory viral infection, please, go and get tested. If you have a cough, sore throat, fever, runny nose,’’ he said.
“Even the mildest of symptoms that you may recognise as a cold, we want you to contact a general practitioner and get a test or go to a state or territory website, look for a drive-through testing facility maybe.
“If you do not have a cold and are able to go to work and get out and about, make sure you maintain it in 1.5 metre distance, make sure you continue to wash your hands and every possible opportunity, make sure you talk to people in your community.
STATE BY STATE GUIDE
Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that some restrictions would be eased from Friday, May 15:
• Pubs to open for meals but no more than 10 patrons at one time.
• Cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time;
• Up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time
No pubs or cafes open yet. Premier Daniel Andrews announced on Monday that restrictions would ease from 12am Wednesday, May 13.
• Up to five visitors now allowed to a home;
• Outdoor gatherings of up to 10;
• Still work from home if possible, but workplaces should develop a COVID-19 plan;
• While several public gathering rules are relaxed, records must be kept of who attends to help with contact tracing;
• Restaurants and cafes still only open for takeaway, baseline restrictions also remain for bars and casinos;
• No pubs on Friday, but more restrictions will be lifted on Monday, May 18.
• Indoor and outdoor non-work gatherings allowed of up to 20 people from May 18
• Weddings and funerals up to 20 people inside or 30 outside;
• Cafes and restaurants with meal service, including within pubs, bars, clubs, hotels and casino allowed to serve up to 20 patrons.
Premier Peter Gutwein said Tasmania would ease more restrictions Monday, May 18.
• Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed for both indoor and outdoor activities, including for weddings, real estate sales and religious gatherings;
• Funerals of up to 30 people if they are held outdoors;
• Up to 10 people allowed in restaurants and cafes, including venues located in pubs, RSLs and clubs for seated table service;
From June 15, the state will move to stage two, subject to health advice:
• Beauty services including tattoo, nails, waxing, facials and tanning will be able to open;
From July 13, stage three will begin, subject to health advice:
• Bars, nightclubs, casinos and gaming to return;
Premier Steven Marshall announced step one would begin on May 11.
• Outdoor dining for restaurants and cafes up to a maximum of 10 people;
• RSLs open but not for meals and bar service;
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced more restrictions will be lifted from Saturday, May 16.
This will allow:
• Gatherings in homes with a maximum of five people;
• Up to 10 people to gather in public spaces;
• Some beauty therapies including nail salons to re-open catering to a maximum of 10 people by appointment;
• Recreational travel up to 150km from your home for day trips;
Ms Palaszczuk also said those living in the outback would have more freedom as there were no cases in these areas. Up to 20 people will be allowed in pubs, restaurants and cafes, and residents will also be able to travel up to 500km but they must remain in those outback areas.
AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY
From midnight on Friday, Canberra’s cafes and restaurants can open with a limit of 10 people.
Pubs, restaurants and bars are to reopen with a two-hour limit on May 15