Easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions
Australia's federal, state and territory governments are gradually easing restrictions around public gatherings, how businesses can operate, and regional travel. Find out more about the National Cabinet's 3-step plan to create a COVIDSafe Australia with new ways of living and working.
Living in a COVIDSafe Australia
Australia has been highly successful in ‘flattening the curve’. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Australia each day is very low. We can now begin to take careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped us suppress the spread of this virus.
From the beginning there have been differences in how COVID-19 has spread in different parts of the country. National Cabinet has agreed a 3-step plan to gradually remove baseline restrictions between now and July. The plan is based on the expert advice of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on how to establish COVIDSafe ways of working and living.
Under this plan, each state and territory government will decide which restrictions can be eased when, taking into account their local circumstances, meaning states and territories may move at different speeds.
Staying committed to flattening the curve
Each step we take needs to be underpinned by a strong commitment from all of us to:
- stay 1.5 metres away from other people whenever and wherever we can
- maintain good hand washing and cough/sneeze hygiene
- stay home when we’re unwell, and get tested if we have respiratory symptoms or a fever, and
- download the COVIDSafe app so we can find the virus quickly
Our success depends on us making these behaviours part of our daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep us COVIDSafe.
Whenever you leave home, you should think about how you’re going to keep yourself, family, friends and co-workers safe. Make conscious choices about what you do and when you do it.
This is particularly important for people who are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19, their friends and their family.
The 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia
National Cabinet’s 3-step plan provides a pathway for states and territories to move toward COVIDSafe communities in a way that suits their circumstances.
States and territories will move between the steps on the pathway at different times, in line with their public health situation and local conditions. They’ll need to maintain strong and prompt control of any outbreaks.
The plan gives Australians some certainty about what is to come in the months ahead. In conjunction with advice released by Safe Work Australia, it will help our businesses make decisions about how they can operate in a COVIDSafe way to protect their customers and workers.
For each of the major areas of restrictions we have set out 3 key steps between where we are now and where we want to be.
- The first steps are cautious ones. It is important we do not move too quickly and risk losing the control we have achieved. Some businesses will start to reopen as we start to allow groups of up to 10 people to be together in homes and in the community. These steps help build our COVIDSafe economy, and also give us more opportunities to connect with family and friends.
- The second steps in each area will build on this through larger gatherings and even more businesses reopening. As businesses take steps to ensure they are COVIDSafe, we should all feel safe and confident doing some of the things we’ve missed over the last few months. Some higher-risk settings and activities will still be tightly restricted.
- The third steps are where we start to fully embrace long-term COVIDSafe ways of living and working — the arrangements that will be our ‘new normal’ while the virus remains a threat. Restrictions will be minimised. Gatherings of up to 100 people, interstate travel, growth in community sport, and the possibility of travel to New Zealand, will be underpinned by COVIDSafe practices. With everyone playing their role, we will build a COVIDSafe Australia, where lives and livelihoods are protected. It is likely some restrictions, on things like international travel and mass gatherings, will remain necessary.
Monitoring our progress
National Cabinet will regularly review our progress. They will be closely monitoring the situation as restrictions are eased to assess the impact of the changes so we can move forward safely and with confidence.
As set out in the Pandemic Health Intelligence Plan endorsed by National Cabinet on 1 May 2020, they will consider:
- the pattern of disease around Australia
- the capacity of our public health surveillance and testing approaches to detect and isolate cases
- the readiness of our health system to respond to outbreaks while also meeting people’s ongoing health needs, and
- how well people are following the health advice and abiding by the restrictions in place
This information will guide decisions on the steps each jurisdiction takes as we make Australia COVIDSafe.
Australia is prepared for an increase in case numbers or possible outbreaks. It may be that in some parts of the country we sometimes have to take a step back in order to contain a local outbreak. This should be the exception rather than the norm.
We want to avoid the uncertainty and disruption of turning restrictions off and on again, including further health, economic and social shocks as a result. Our continued success depends on all Australians staying COVIDSafe.
All Australians have an ongoing role to play in protecting their families, co-workers and the most vulnerable in the community.