National Cabinet sets July end date for three-part full opening plan

National Cabinet sets July end date for three-part full opening plan

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says we will "walk before we run" as part of a three-part plan to fully reopen the economy in July.

Speaking this afternoon, the PM said the National Cabinet had agreed to the plan and a national framework to achieve a COVID-safe economy and society.

Under the first step small cafés and restaurants can be reopened along with some recreational sport facilities, while people will have travel freedom within their state or territory.

The plan acts as a guideline for State and Territory Governments who will ultimately make their own decisions about when to start each step of the reopening scheme.

Eventually, Step 3 contemplates the reopening of Trans-Tasman and Pacific Island travel, along with the consideration of letting international students back into the country and reopening nightclubs. 

"We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, but we also know that if we wish to reclaim the ground that we have lost we cannot be too timid," Morrison said.

"There will be risks, there will be challenges, there will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be setbacks. Not everything will go to plan, there will be inconsistencies.

"States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances."

He said that according to Treasury, the reopening plan would see some 850,000 jobs restored in the months ahead with the following three stages:

Step 1: COVID safe reopening commences with physical distancing & hygiene

  • Greater connection with friends and family allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, including up to five guests in your own home;
  • Working from home if it suits the employee and employer;
  • Children allowed back in classrooms and playgrounds;
  • Golf courses, parks, swimming pools, libraries and community centres reopened; 
  • Retail, small cafés and restaurants reopened;
  • Home sales and auctions allowed
  • Boot camps reopened
  • Intrastate recreational travel allowed; and
  • Easier restrictions for funerals of up to 30 attendees outdoors and 10 at weddings.

Step 2: Most businesses reopen with physical distancing & hygiene

  • Larger gatherings allowed for up to 20 people;
  • Cinemas, theatres and amusement parks reopened;
  • Beauty parlours reopened; 
  • Gyms reopened;
  • Some caravan parks and campgrounds reopened
  • More retail openings on sector-based COVID-safe plans; 
  • Organised community sport; and
  • Some interstate travel.

Step 3: All Australians return to work with physical distancing & hygiene

  • Allowing gatherings of up to 100 people;
  • Food courts reopened;
  • Saunas and bathhouses reopened;
  • Nightclubs reopened;
  • All interstate travel allowed; and
  • Cross-Tasman, Pacific Island and international student travel to be considered. 

The PM said Step 3 would become clearer as we work through Steps 1 and 2, but "by then most workers will be back in the workplace". 

"It is our aspiration, it is agreed amongst Premiers and Chief Ministers and myself, that in July we will have moved through these three steps across the country," he said.

"Premiers and Chief Ministers have asked me to stress that there should be no expectation of Step 1 starting on Day 1, unless they are indeed already there. Moving on these steps will take some preparation.

"We're open to everything pretty much to get the economy back and firing as much as possible."

He said moving from one step to the next would need to be in keeping with the following three criteria:

  1. That further easing would not present an undue risk;
  2. That widespread testing is adequately identifying community transmission;
  3. Public health actions are able to trace cases and track local outbreaks.

"Testing, tracing, tracking, as they were saying in the Northern Territory recently," Morrison said.

"Downloading the COVIDSafe app, which is now over 5.3 million, is the best way you can help us do this job to keep you and your families safe."

The PM added a review into JobKeeper would be taking place next month.

"That was a temporary lifeline put in place to help Australians through the worst of this crisis," he said.

There are currently 737 active cases of COVID-19 in Australia, including 19 new cases in the last 24 hours from Victoria (14), NSW (4), WA (1).

Nationwide there have been 41 recoveries reported today, while there have been no new deaths, meaning the death toll remains at 97.

Updated at 1:01pm AEST on 8 May 2020.

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