Scott Morrison expects all states to stick to their commitments on reopening borders through July. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS

politics

Leaders forge on with relaxing virus rules

2020-06-26 15:54:33

Coronavirus restrictions will be eased across Australia despite Melbourne’s outbreak threatening to derail the economic restart.

The national cabinet of federal, state and territory leaders on Friday resolved to hold firm on lifting constraints around social and business activity.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says premiers and chief ministers will stick with a three-step plan to gradually ease restrictions next month.

“We remain on track, the curve remains flat,” he said on Friday.

“But where you get bumps and when you get outbreaks, then you need to manage them and you need to respond to them. That is what exactly what is happening.”

Melbourne recorded 30 new cases on Friday, continuing a run of double-digit increases that has more than trebled Victoria’s active cases to 183 in just over a week.

Six new cases were detected in NSW, five of them returned travellers.

Mr Morrison expects all states to stick to commitments on opening borders, with all jurisdictions except WA to restart domestic travel at different points through July.

Shortly after the national cabinet, Premier Peter Gutwein announced Tasmania would reopen to visitors on July 24.

The NT is introducing extreme measures to keep people from Melbourne’s coronavirus hot spot suburbs out.

People entering the territory will have to make a statutory declaration about where they had been in the preceding 28 days, with anyone caught lying facing up to three years in jail.

Mr Morrison said it was reasonable for states to exclude residents of hot spots.

The expert medical panel backed moving to a two square-metre a person rule, down from four, in smaller premises.

Tasmania and WA have already introduced the measure.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has also been tasked with devising a plan to allow live music and performance venues to reopen.

People in hotel quarantine will be tested for coronavirus at the start and end of their two-week stint.

Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy, who will leave the job on Friday to head up the federal health department, said it was reassuring that infections were not going up in massive numbers.

“This virus is accelerating around the world,” he said.

“We are in a very fortunate island but we will remain at risk of importation of cases for the foreseeable future.”

Mr Morrison nominated entertainment, aviation and tourism as sectors requiring additional support beyond September when a slew of coronavirus measures will end.

“We understand that they are going to be hurting more for longer than other parts of the economy,” the prime minister said.

Further industry-specific help packages are expected to be announced alongside an economic update on July 23.