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Coronavirus Australia: Just 13 new cases recorded in 24 hours

Australia recorded just 13 new coronavirus cases across the country in a 24-hour period, but the Government insists medical experts will guide the relaxing of restrictions despite infections plummeting across every state.

Queensland on Monday recorded no new cases of COVID-19 for the first time since March 9.

In New South Wales, the hardest hit state with a total of 2,963 confirmed COVID-19 cases, there were only six new infections in the past 24 hours.

The Australian Capital Territory reported one new case, along with Victoria, while South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia all recorded no new cases.  

Australia is flattening the coronavirus curve with the above graph indicating just 13 new cases in the last 24 hours

Australia is flattening the coronavirus curve with the above graph indicating just 13 new cases in the last 24 hours

Australia is flattening the coronavirus curve with the above graph indicating just 13 new cases in the last 24 hours

A woman in a leather jacket is pictured wearing face mask while shopping on George Street in Sydney on Monday

A woman in a leather jacket is pictured wearing face mask while shopping on George Street in Sydney on Monday

A woman in a leather jacket is pictured wearing face mask while shopping on George Street in Sydney on Monday

Tasmania recorded five new infections after a cluster broke out among medical workers last week in the state’s north-west. 

There have been 71 coronavirus deaths across the nation, but of the 6619 total cases recorded, more than 4200 have recovered.

From the peak of nearly 5,000 active cases on April 4, Australia had around 2400 on Monday.

Of those, just 170 are in hospital, with 50 in Intensive Care Units across the country.   

Travel bans, closed borders, and business shutdowns have slashed the number of new cases a day by up to 90 per cent in less than a month. 

Stage three restrictions on gatherings and leaving the house brought in on March 31 are expected to crush the curve further over the remainder of April. 

The extraordinary new figures come off the back of Australia’s high testing rates, which are among the world’s best.  

Just under 20,000 people-per-million have been tested, compared with 11,666 people-per-million in U.S.

In the UK, 7,101 people-per-million have been tested and in France that figure is 7,103.  

Australia has been extremely effective in flattening the curve compared to the U.S. and European where new coronavirus cases are in the thousands each day

Australia has been extremely effective in flattening the curve compared to the U.S. and European where new coronavirus cases are in the thousands each day

Australia has been extremely effective in flattening the curve compared to the U.S. and European where new coronavirus cases are in the thousands each day

Pedestrians are pictured in Melbourne CBD on Monday with many of them wearing protective face masks

Pedestrians are pictured in Melbourne CBD on Monday with many of them wearing protective face masks

Pedestrians are pictured in Melbourne CBD on Monday with many of them wearing protective face masks

A woman wears a black face mask in Melbourne on Saturday. About one in six Australians wear a face mask whenever they leave home, according to survey findings released on Monday

A woman wears a black face mask in Melbourne on Saturday. About one in six Australians wear a face mask whenever they leave home, according to survey findings released on Monday

A woman wears a black face mask in Melbourne on Saturday. About one in six Australians wear a face mask whenever they leave home, according to survey findings released on Monday   

But Australian health officials and senior government leaders are cautioning against complacency as grim economic predictions raise questions about when to loosen restrictions.

Premiers have said social distancing measures would remain in place for at least three weeks, and any eventual loosening of restrictions wouldn’t pubs restaurants and mass gatherings. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the national cabinet of state and federal leaders will have a discussion on Tuesday about some of the prerequisites for relaxing any of the rules in place.

How many Australians have been tested for COVID-19? 

NSW: 168,626 (Total) 3,489 (Today)

VIC: 86,000 (Total) 4,000 (Today)

ACT: 7,063 (Total) 67 (Today)

QLD: 85,870 (Total) 1,135 (Today)

TAS: 6,697 (Total) 377 (Today)

WA: 29,469 (Total) 581 (Today)

SA: 44,278 (Total) 968 (Today)

NT: 3,731 (Total) 18 (Today)

TOTAL: 431,000 

‘So many countries around the world had very similar rules in place to what we have. Then they relaxed the rules,’ he said.

Mr Andrews argued the decreased infectious rate was an indication the strategy to suppress the virus is working.

‘I want to make it clear though that the notion that pubs are open any time soon, restaurants, bars, cafes, I don’t think that will be the case,’ he said.

Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth said it had comforted him over the weekend to see Australians exercising in pairs or family groups and the lengths some small businesses had gone to in enforcing social distancing.

‘Because I know how hard it is now that we are approaching just over a month of these really stringent physical distancing measures and restrictions that we have placed on our usual lifestyle,’ he said on Monday.

‘(The) continued ongoing low level of reporting of cases which demonstrates that the physical distancing measures that we have asked of Australians and that Australians have really embraced are still paying dividends for us.’

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the infection rate was a reflection of how seriously Australians were taking distancing orders.

‘When it comes to social distancing, quarantine, isolation measures, we’ll continue to take the medical advice and that’s served Australia well,’ he said in Canberra.

AUSTRALIA’S CORONAVIRUS RESTRICTIONS 

STAGE ONE (March 23)

Registered and licensed clubs, entertainment venues, cinemas, casinos, nightclubs, indoor sports venues, including gyms, and places of worship were ordered to close as part of ‘stage one’ restrictions rolled out on Monday

STAGE TWO (March 25)

Australians banned from eating at shopping centre food courts, and the number of people at weddings, funerals and social gatherings limited to curb the spread of coronavirus.

STAGE THREE (March 30)

Playgrounds, skate parks, and outdoor gyms closed and boot camps reduced to one-on-one outdoor personal training sessions.

Federal government effectively bans gatherings of more than two people across Australia to slow the spread of coronavirus – but leaves enforcement to state governments.

Victoria announces ‘stage three’ in the state, introducing fines of $1,600 for non-compliance of the two-person rule. 

Travellers wearing face masks are seen boarding buses at Adelaide Airport on Monday

Travellers wearing face masks are seen boarding buses at Adelaide Airport on Monday

Travellers wearing face masks are seen boarding buses at Adelaide Airport on Monday 

A Melbourne Police officer is pictured questioning a pedestrian to ensure he is not breaking the social distancing rules brought in to slow the spread of COVID-19

A Melbourne Police officer is pictured questioning a pedestrian to ensure he is not breaking the social distancing rules brought in to slow the spread of COVID-19

A Melbourne Police officer is pictured questioning a pedestrian to ensure he is not breaking the social distancing rules brought in to slow the spread of COVID-19

A traveller is loaded into an ambulance at Adelaide Airport on Monday. The are just 170 people in hospital with coronavirus across the country, with 50 in Intensive Care Units

A traveller is loaded into an ambulance at Adelaide Airport on Monday. The are just 170 people in hospital with coronavirus across the country, with 50 in Intensive Care Units

A traveller is loaded into an ambulance at Adelaide Airport on Monday. The are just 170 people in hospital with coronavirus across the country, with 50 in Intensive Care Units

Premier Andrews said the numbers were not an invitation to roll back the rules.

‘They are simply a validation that this strategy is working and we’ll have options if we can continue to see this sort of performance,’ he said.

His counterpart in Western Australia agreed.

‘This is an outstanding result, one we can all be very proud of,’ Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said on Monday.

‘Western Australia has done an incredible job but we can’t let it go to waste now – we need everyone to stay the course. We cannot get complacent.

‘Border restrictions have proved invaluable in stopping the spread.’ 

Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth (pictured) said the low number of new coronavirus cases demonstrates Australians have embraced physical distancing measures

Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth (pictured) said the low number of new coronavirus cases demonstrates Australians have embraced physical distancing measures

Deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth (pictured) said the low number of new coronavirus cases demonstrates Australians have embraced physical distancing measures

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (above) visits a factory on April 6 just hours before the state closed its borders to slow the spread of coronavirus

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (above) visits a factory on April 6 just hours before the state closed its borders to slow the spread of coronavirus

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan (above) visits a factory on April 6 just hours before the state closed its borders to slow the spread of coronavirus

Extraordinary survey findings may shed light on why Australia has crushed the coronavirus curve 

New survey data may shed light on why Australia has so successfully flattened the coronavirus curve.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released the results of its first survey into the impact of the pandemic on households across the country on Monday, the same day the country recorded just eight new cases of COVID-19.  

About 1059 Australians took part in the ABS telephone survey in the first week of April about the impact on jobs, hours worked, health precautions, hygiene, social distancing, self-isolation, flu vaccination and travel.

An ABS survey has revealed that most Australians are obeying  newly enforced public health guidelines. Pictured is Sydney's Coogee Beach on Monday after it was reopened for exercise

An ABS survey has revealed that most Australians are obeying  newly enforced public health guidelines. Pictured is Sydney's Coogee Beach on Monday after it was reopened for exercise

An ABS survey has revealed that most Australians are obeying  newly enforced public health guidelines. Pictured is Sydney’s Coogee Beach on Monday after it was reopened for exercise

A massive 98 per cent of those surveyed said they had been practising social distancing, while 88 per cent were taking the lockdown seriously by avoiding public spaces and events.

About 87 per cent have cancelled personal gatherings in the previous four weeks.

‘The majority of Australians are adhering to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19,’ ABS household surveys program manager Michelle Marquardt said. 

Despite the plummeting rate of new cases, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Australians remain concerned about their health amid the outbreak which has claimed 71 lives in the last three months.

Almost nine in ten Australians (87 per cent) are washing their hands and/or using sanitiser more than usual.

Around half are heeding advice to not touch their face while one in six (17 per cent) wear a face mask whenever they leave home for essential purposes.

Already 2.2 million have have had a flu vaccination this year while another 12.2 million intend to be jabbed as the winter flu season draws closer. 

More than half (52 per cent) of Australians changed or cancelled their travel plans in March as Australia and other countries around the world went into lockdown.

On the job front, around 12 per cent of employed Australians were working more hours than usual as a result of coronavirus while almost a quarter (24 per cent) were working less. 

Around 98 per cent of those surveyed said they had been practising social distancing. Pictured are police  enforcing the law in Sydney's eastern suburbs on Saturday

Around 98 per cent of those surveyed said they had been practising social distancing. Pictured are police  enforcing the law in Sydney's eastern suburbs on Saturday

Around 98 per cent of those surveyed said they had been practising social distancing. Pictured are police  enforcing the law in Sydney’s eastern suburbs on Saturday

‘The survey found that the proportion of people who had a job fell by three percentage points between early March and early April’ Ms Marquardt said.

Two thirds (66 per cent) of surveyed Australians had a job in the first week of March, which dropped to 63 per cent by early April.

The ABS have since contacted surveyed households for follow up questions on their current job situation, how government stimulus payments were spent, financial and psychological impacts and how they communicate with friends and family.

The ABS will release data from the second survey in early May and plans to provide  further detail from surveyed households over the coming months.

But it’s not such good news on the economic and employment front.  

The Grattan Institute has released a new report predicting the jobless rate could rise to 15 per cent, outstripping Treasury’s forecast of a 10 per cent peak.

‘There’s no doubt we will see higher unemployment here as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus,’ Mr Frydenberg said.

Grattan found between 14 and 26 per cent of the Australian workforce – as many as 3.4 million people – could be out of work in the coming weeks.

With the JobSeeker scheme taken into account, they predict the unemployment rate will be between 10 and 15 per cent.

The Morrison government has set a series of benchmarks for economic restrictions to be gradually eased, with state and federal leaders due to make a call in mid-May.

Among the goals is a 40 per cent take-up rate of an app that uses phone interactions to trace when people with coronavirus have come into contact with others.

Government Services Minister Stuart Robert said the software would help to allow a restart of economic and social activity.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (above) insists medical experts will guide the relaxing of economic restrictions despite coronavirus infections plummeting across every state

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (above) insists medical experts will guide the relaxing of economic restrictions despite coronavirus infections plummeting across every state

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (above) insists medical experts will guide the relaxing of economic restrictions despite coronavirus infections plummeting across every state

A report from the Grattan Institute predicts between 14 and 26 per cent of Australian workers could be out of work as a direct result of the coronavirus shutdown. Pictured: People queuing up outside a Centrelink office in Melbourne on April 20, 2020,

A report from the Grattan Institute predicts between 14 and 26 per cent of Australian workers could be out of work as a direct result of the coronavirus shutdown. Pictured: People queuing up outside a Centrelink office in Melbourne on April 20, 2020,

A report from the Grattan Institute predicts between 14 and 26 per cent of Australian workers could be out of work as a direct result of the coronavirus shutdown. Pictured: People queuing up outside a Centrelink office in Melbourne on April 20, 2020,

The Australian Government's coronavirus tracking app will be launched next week to help control the spread of the virus

The Australian Government's coronavirus tracking app will be launched next week to help control the spread of the virus

The Australian Government’s coronavirus tracking app will be launched next week to help control the spread of the virus

‘It’s going to allow us to get back to life quicker,’ he told ABC TV.

Poll

Will you download the Australian Government’s coronavirus tracking app?

  • Yes 25 votes
  • No 82 votes
  • Not sure yet 8 votes

Now share your opinion

‘It will allow us to get back to the footy quicker. It will allow us to get back to work quicker.’

Mr Robert has moved to allay privacy fears surrounding the app after some government MPs said they wouldn’t sign up.

Dr Coatsworth said the app was simply the icing on the cake to the existing process of tracing cases, offering back-up to people’s memories of who they had been in contact with.

‘It is the case that if you put the app out and even if only one per cent of the population take it up, it will be more useful than if no-one takes it up,’ he said.

The national cabinet, which includes Mr Morrison and state and territory leaders, will meet on Tuesday to discuss the prospect of restarting some elective surgeries.

New Zealand reveals plans to ease COVID-19 restrictions as curve is crushed   

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pleaded with New Zealanders to maintain their vigilance against COVID-19 while announcing plans to lessen her country’s lockdown restrictions from next week.

After a month under a severe clampdown, New Zealand will move from the current alert ‘level four’ restrictions to ‘level three’ on Tuesday 28 April from when it will continue for a fortnight.

The decision was taken at a crunch meeting of Cabinet, where Ms Ardern said she felt confident there was no widespread community transmission of coronavirus.

Jacinda Ardern has pleaded with New Zealanders to maintain their vigilance against COVID-19 while announcing plans to lessen her country's lockdown restrictions

Jacinda Ardern has pleaded with New Zealanders to maintain their vigilance against COVID-19 while announcing plans to lessen her country's lockdown restrictions

Jacinda Ardern has pleaded with New Zealanders to maintain their vigilance against COVID-19 while announcing plans to lessen her country’s lockdown restrictions

‘The effort of our team of five million has broken the chain of transmission,’ she said.

‘New Zealanders have done an exceptional job, by and large, with sticking with what has been an extraordinary ask. Compared to the rest of the world, we’ve done something that I think is incredible.’

The shift will see schools resume classes, more businesses functioning and restaurants re-opening for delivery services only.

During the back half of the lockdown, New Zealand's case numbers have plummeted from a daily high of 89 cases to single digits

During the back half of the lockdown, New Zealand's case numbers have plummeted from a daily high of 89 cases to single digits

During the back half of the lockdown, New Zealand’s case numbers have plummeted from a daily high of 89 cases to single digits

New Zealand has consistently placed public health concerns above economic concerns, first moving to lockdown on March 23 off the back of just 102 cases.

During the back half of the lockdown, New Zealand’s case numbers have plummeted from a daily high of 89 cases to single digits.

On Monday, Kiwi health officials announced nine new cases, bringing the nationwide tally to 1440.

Of that, 974 people have recovered from the virus. With no deaths in the last 24 hours, the country’s death toll stands at 12.

Infectious disease experts reveal how Australia’s lockdowns could be lifted month-by-month – but warn it may be two years before our lives are back where they were before the coronavirus pandemic

Australians could soon be able to enjoy a picnic in the park but can forget about taking a holiday until at least October, experts predict.

State governments are preparing to loosen some restrictions within weeks as coronavirus infection rates continue to plummet.

But according to expert predictions, life would not return to a pre-pandemic normal in Australia for at least two years, assuming a vaccine is rolled out during that time.

Only 38 new cases were recorded on Sunday – and just eight on Monday – bringing the total to 6,619 with 71 deaths and far more patients having recovered than still sick.

Last week Prime Minister Scott Morrison extended stage three lockdowns until May 11, but hinted life would get easier after that if the infection curve kept falling.

Australians could soon be able to enjoy a picnic in the park but can forget about taking a holiday until at least October. Pictured: An early shopper in Sydney on Saturday

Australians could soon be able to enjoy a picnic in the park but can forget about taking a holiday until at least October. Pictured: An early shopper in Sydney on Saturday

Australians could soon be able to enjoy a picnic in the park but can forget about taking a holiday until at least October. Pictured: An early shopper in Sydney on Saturday

Experts expect restrictions will be slowly peeled back three weeks at a time to make sure more social interaction wasn’t triggering new outbreaks.

‘It’s going to be a very slow and graduated process. We have to wait three weeks between each stage,’ University of NSW professor Bill Bowtell told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Get to the middle of May, take stock, and then the next phase could be contemplated in the middle of June.’

Here are the experts’ predictions on the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, month-by-month.

April

The National Cabinet of Mr Morrison and state premiers will meet on Tuesday to discuss easing restrictions on elective surgeries.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said IVF was likely among the first procedures to be restarted but not everything would be allowed at once.

‘It would be gentle and it would have to ensure we have enough protective equipment,’ he said.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said schools in his state would reopen on April 28 but parents could keep their children learning from home if they preferred.

Strict laws that have seen people fined for eating a kebab on a park bench, sunbathing (pictured in Sydney's east on Saturday), or going for a drive will likely be the first rules gone

Strict laws that have seen people fined for eating a kebab on a park bench, sunbathing (pictured in Sydney's east on Saturday), or going for a drive will likely be the first rules gone

Strict laws that have seen people fined for eating a kebab on a park bench, sunbathing (pictured in Sydney’s east on Saturday), or going for a drive will likely be the first rules gone

May

Schools will gradually reopen in NSW from May 11, but with staggered start times and there will still be many children not in class initially.

ROAD TO RECOVERY – ACCORDING TO EXPERTS

April: Some elective surgery. Schools reopen

May: More schools open. No more fines for leaving home

June: Gatherings limit increased to allow very small social events. Restrictions lifted on ‘non-essential’ businesses and shops

July: Pubs, cafes, restaurants return but with ‘tight controls’ – limits on numbers and spaces between groups

August or September: Interstate holidays resume with half-empty planes. Pubs, restaurants and cafes fully reopened.

October: The earliest international travel to select countries could resume but returning travellers would still need to quarantine for 14 days

Victoria has gone the other way with Premier Daniel Andrews announcing on Sunday that term two would be taught remotely.

Australian National University microbiology professor Peter Collignon said the first restrictions likely to be dumped were stay-at-home orders.

‘Some of the things NSW and Victoria have done don’t make biological sense, like sitting on the grass away from everyone else, or going fishing, or going for a drive,’ he told Daily Mail Australia.

‘This isn’t New York, we don’t have uncontrolled infections, and they don’t make sense in how you’re going to get the infection anyway.’

Professor Collignon argued strict laws that have seen people fined for eating a kebab on a park bench, sunbathing, or going for a drive were unnecessary.

He said Australians would still need to keep 1.5m away from each other, but should be allowed to go about their lives while keeping their distance.

‘We have laws that aren’t nuanced and arguably are counter-productive. People will start rebelling against them because they don’t make sense,’ he said.

‘The policing we need is to avoid having crowds and to make sure you don’t have 40 people over to your house.’ 

Professor Bowtell said ‘isolated in public’ activities like sunbathing could be wound back if infection trends continued until May.

However, any relaxing of restrictions would require far more testing to accurately measure the effect of changes, and enhanced contact tracing to lock down cases.

‘The first question is, can we lock in the gains of the past few weeks? If so, then we have more options,’ he said.

Professor Collignon said Australians would need to keep 1.5m away from each other, but should be allowed to go about their lives while keeping their distance. Pictured: Practicing social distancing at a Melbourne park on Saturday

Professor Collignon said Australians would need to keep 1.5m away from each other, but should be allowed to go about their lives while keeping their distance. Pictured: Practicing social distancing at a Melbourne park on Saturday

Professor Collignon said Australians would need to keep 1.5m away from each other, but should be allowed to go about their lives while keeping their distance. Pictured: Practicing social distancing at a Melbourne park on Saturday

TRACKING OR RESTRICTIONS? IT’S YOUR CHOICE, SAYS THE PM

Scott Morrison threatened to make a coronavirus surveillance software mandatory or keep strict social restrictions in place if not enough people sign up voluntarily.

The prime minister has also likened downloading the mobile phone tracing application to undertaking national service.

Mr Morrison says the nation needs to have a broader testing regime, better contact tracing and greater capacity to respond to local outbreaks before governments can look at easing restrictions.

The federal government is developing a contact tracing app that checks Bluetooth connections made by the phone of someone with the virus while they were contagious.

At least 40 per cent of the population would need to install it for the results to be effective.

Mr Morrison compared using the tracing app to national service.

‘If you download this app you’ll be helping save someone’s life,’ he told Triple M on Friday.

He hopes some parts of the economy could be restarted in mid-May if the testing, tracing and response capacity goals are met.

But he refused to rule out making the phone tracing mandatory.

‘This is the simple deal: if people download the app and more people have got it, the sooner we can start easing off on some of these restrictions,’ Mr Morrison said.

June

Professor Bowtell said the next step would be ditching the two-person rule and letting small groups of people congregate, which could come in June.

However, the size of gatherings would have to be very slowly increased as the bigger the group, the faster the spread.

‘The virus can’t count, it just replicates itself. The more opportunity you give the virus to transmit from person to person the more risk there is of a situation where you can’t track the outbreak,’ he said.

‘If you had a situation like Burnie in Tasmania you’d have go to back into lockdown.’

Professor Bowtell said allowing non-essential businesses and relaxing restrictions on shops that were still open could happen around this time.

But they would need to be extra vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as they had a legal liability if their business wasn’t kept safe. 

‘The virus spreads through coughs and sneezes but it’s also on lift buttons, balustrades, train poles, and glass windows,’ he said.

Picnics in the park could be back by June with the two-person rule relaxed to allow for small social gatherings like this one in Melbourne last month

Picnics in the park could be back by June with the two-person rule relaxed to allow for small social gatherings like this one in Melbourne last month

Picnics in the park could be back by June with the two-person rule relaxed to allow for small social gatherings like this one in Melbourne last month

Professor Collignon said rules on gathering sizes varied wildly between states with NSW and Victoria the most restrictive without results showing it was a better idea. 

‘If lower restrictions seem to work as well as tougher ones, why don’t we give the lower ones a go,’ he said.

CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,623

New South Wales: 2,963

Victoria: 1,329

Queensland: 1,019

Western Australia: 545

South Australia: 435

Tasmania: 200

Australian Capital Territory: 104

Northern Territory: 28

TOTAL CASES:  6,623

RECOVERED: 4,268

DEAD: 71

‘What worked is what all the states agreed to in mid-to late March, not what NSW and Victoria have done. That’s turned the curve, why don’t we go back to that?

‘I don’t know what the right number is, but I think one is too low. It’s at least two and we should experiment with more.’

However, he said rules should be based on how much community transmission there was so there could be tougher restrictions in Bondi than a country town, for example. 

With increases in gathering sizes could come the reopening of nail salons and other businesses that have close contact.

Professor Bowtell said rules capping weddings at five people and funerals at 10 would need to stay for the time being.

July

Along with slowly increasing the size of gatherings, Australians could be allowed to socialise in a wider range of venues after two months of sustained success.

Professor Bowtell said pubs, cafes, and restaurants – which were shut down on March 23 – may be able to open in a limited capacity in a third round of relaxation.

However, strict rules would need to apply to prevent them turning into mass gatherings that could allow one case to become dozens.

‘It’s very complex question about how you could do that safely,’ he said.

Professor Collignon said pubs as we know them wouldn’t be back until at least September, but could return earlier under tight controls.

A group enjoy last drinks at the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel on March 22, the last night before pubs were shut down across Australia. They could reopen with limits by July

A group enjoy last drinks at the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel on March 22, the last night before pubs were shut down across Australia. They could reopen with limits by July

A group enjoy last drinks at the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel on March 22, the last night before pubs were shut down across Australia. They could reopen with limits by July

Pubs, cafes and restaurants would be strictly sit-down only with the tables spaced out to prevent transmission between them, according to Professor Collignon.

There would only be enough chairs at each as was allowed by gathering limits and either be table service or have one person ordering at a time.  

‘Outside is safer than inside so perhaps outside dining and beer gardens could open first with each table at least two metres apart,’ he said.

The one person per four square metres rule would continue to apply for many months to come and have to be enforced at the door.

Gyms would be a harder sell at this point because of the amount of bodily fluid produced and the lack of available space.

August and September

If there are no big increase in cases by this time, Australians may be able to think about taking interstate holidays again.

Professor Collignon said ‘we can’t live like this for two years’ but predicted flights and hotels could be much more expensive for the rest of 2020. 

If there are no big increase in cases by August or September, Australians may be able to think about taking interstate holidays again - but it will be expensive. Pictured: A Qantas jet lands at Sydney airport on Friday

If there are no big increase in cases by August or September, Australians may be able to think about taking interstate holidays again - but it will be expensive. Pictured: A Qantas jet lands at Sydney airport on Friday

If there are no big increase in cases by August or September, Australians may be able to think about taking interstate holidays again – but it will be expensive. Pictured: A Qantas jet lands at Sydney airport on Friday

‘It might cost more as airlines can’t have a full plane, and hotels might only have half their rooms open to keep the distancing,’ he said.

‘I don’t think we’ll get back to full planes and hotels for a while, but maybe halfway.’ 

Professor Bowtell said holiday travel by plane would definitely be later than the opening of pubs and cafes because of the crowding required.

‘An aluminium tube of 200 people sitting in close proximity in a closed environment is like a cruise ship in the sky,’ he said.

October

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham last week told Australians not to book international travel all this year as border closures were our best defence.

But there’s a chance an overseas holiday could be possible before Christmas if things break the right away around the world.

Professor Collignon said the earliest would be October, and only to certain locations with extreme inconvenience.

‘You would only be allowed to go if it was a relatively safe place but you’d have to put up with being quarantined for two weeks when you get back,’ he said.

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into the InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine in Sydney

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into the InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine in Sydney

Returning overseas travellers are ushered into the InterContinental Hotel for the beginning of their 14-day imposed quarantine in Sydney

Quarantine on return would be necessary for the next 12 months at least as even a few infected travellers could start a new outbreak.

When this would be possible depends on how other countries go combating coronavirus and if Australia is satisfied with their efforts. 

‘We need better data to make sure where you’re going is an area of relatively low transmission and right now we don’t have it for anywhere because there’s not enough testing,’ Professor Collignon said.

New Zealand has suggested a ‘Trans-Tasman bubble’ between itself and Australia but Mr Morrison said this was not yet being seriously considered.

But as the Kiwis head towards eradicating coronavirus, it may become an option by the second half of the year. 

Not any time soon

Sporting matches will continue to be played at empty stadiums for the rest of the year because packing up to 100,000 in one place was a huge risk.

Similarly, music festivals would have little chance of going ahead until at least well into the summer.

New Year’s Eve celebrations could also be curtailed as crowds in places like Sydney Harbour routinely swell to bigger than football stadiums. 

Professor Bowtell stressed that the public needed to be brought along for the ride or they would stop following the rules as it seemed like the crisis was over.

Large live sporting events such as football and cricket are expected to remain closed to spectators. Pictured: A cyclist in a valved gas mask in Melbourne on Saturday

Large live sporting events such as football and cricket are expected to remain closed to spectators. Pictured: A cyclist in a valved gas mask in Melbourne on Saturday

Large live sporting events such as football and cricket are expected to remain closed to spectators. Pictured: A cyclist in a valved gas mask in Melbourne on Saturday

‘There’s no law you can pass that will force the Australian people to do anything, they’ve got to understand it deeply,’ he said. 

‘My experience from the HIV epidemic is people will do the right thing they understand it’s in their interest and that means a much more effective and imaginative public education program.

‘It’s like smoking, what keeps people from doing it is social pressure, not laws.’

Professor Collignon said Australia would not be ‘back to normal’ as it was in January until at least two years from now once a vaccine was deployed.

Could it all happen faster? 

Scientists have predicted Australia could slash new cases to zero by the middle of June if the lockdown persisted for another two months.

A few weeks after that, the country could consider itself to have eradicated coronavirus if there were still no new cases.  

This is not a strategy Mr Morrison and Professor Murphy are considering as they consider the damage of a longer lockdown to be too great. 

Australia’s policy has been to flatten the curve of the rate of infection to a level the hospital system can deal with.

Modelling from the Universities of Sydney (orange) and Melbourne (green) shows Australia can get to zero new cases within 90 days of lockdown. The current trend in recorded cases (yellow) is already ahead of this

Modelling from the Universities of Sydney (orange) and Melbourne (green) shows Australia can get to zero new cases within 90 days of lockdown. The current trend in recorded cases (yellow) is already ahead of this

Modelling from the Universities of Sydney (orange) and Melbourne (green) shows Australia can get to zero new cases within 90 days of lockdown. The current trend in recorded cases (yellow) is already ahead of this

However, Professor Murphy said Australia may eradicate coronavirus with the current suppression plan anyway.

‘It is quite possible we could eradicate the virus in some parts of the country. Some states have had no cases for days or a small number of imported cases,’ he said.

‘We are on the same trajectory of New Zealand which is aiming for eradication.

‘The difference [is] that we don’t feel the need to hold the country very seriously locked down until we have no cases. If that happens with the measures we are doing now, that would be fantastic.’ 

Professor Bowtell said if Australia was proven to have eradicated coronavirus even without trying to, the speed of the country opening up would be much faster.

‘If we eradicate the virus you get a lot more options,’ he said.

COVID-19’S IMPACT: THE LATEST

NUMBERS

* A total of 6619 Australians have caught the virus, with around 4200 recovered.

* Australian deaths: 71 (30 in NSW, 15 in Vic, four in Qld, seven in WA, eight in Tas, three in ACT, four in SA). 21 were passengers on the Ruby Princess. Queensland toll excludes two Queenslanders who died in other states.

* Queensland and WA had no new cases overnight while South Australia has reported a third consecutive day with no new infections.

MEASURES

* State and federal leaders will discuss lifting restrictions on elective surgeries at a national cabinet meeting on Tuesday

* A federal government app to track people who have been in contact with a coronavirus case will be available in the next couple of weeks.

* The NSW government has pledged a further $140 million for agricultural and primary industries.

* The federal government has given the Royal Flying Doctor Service $53 million in funding to support evacuations of suspected coronavirus cases and delivery of protective equipment for frontline staff.

* Tenants must prove they have lost 25 per cent of their income – or have rent exceeding more than 30 per cent of their income – to access rental relief packages in Queensland.

* 100 million surgical masks needed to help stop the spread of COVID-19 will be distributed to frontline workers over the next few weeks.

* 3.5 million extra doses of the flu vaccine will be made available.

* The Queensland government has offered $200 million to help rescue Virgin Australia

* About $339.5 billion – 17 per cent of the national economy – in combined efforts have been announced by Australian governments and the Reserve Bank so far.

* All Australians must continue practising social distancing and stay at home unless going out for essentials or exercise.

* Australians returning home from overseas must be quarantined for two weeks in hotels or other accommodation before being allowed home.

* Australians, excluding aid workers and compassionate cases, are banned from international travel.

* Still open: supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, public transport, some schools, hairdressers, petrol stations, postal and freight services, bottle shops, newsagents, retail shops. Restaurants restricted to takeaway/delivery in most states.

* Closed: gyms, indoor sports venues, pubs, cinemas, nightclubs, casinos, places of worship, theme parks, auction houses, food courts in shopping centres, beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas and tattoo parlours, galleries, museums, libraries, youth centres, community halls, clubs, RSL clubs, swimming pools, amusement parks, arcades, indoor and outdoor play centres, social sports that involve large groups, outdoor and indoor markets, outdoor playgrounds, outdoor gyms, skate parks.

KEY QUOTE

* ‘We recognise that there are Australians out there who are in pain, have disability, can’t be in the workforce, need to take very potent pain medication that need their elective surgery done.’ – deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth on reintroducing low-risk elective surgeries.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

* Virgin Australia has gone into voluntary administration after being smothered by debt when travel bans grounded most of its planes.

* A second Lion Air flight bringing Australians home from Mumbai is set to touch down in Adelaide on Tuesday.

* Some Sydney beaches have re-opened, except Bondi, Manly and Dee Why, however social distancing measures still remain.

* Queensland has reported no new coronavirus diagnoses for the first time in more than two months, followed by WA, while South Australia recorded its third day with no infections.

* Queensland’s online educational portal has crashed as students begin term two of school.

* 19 more crew members of the Ruby Princess cruise ship have been infected, taking the total to 190/

* NSW Police revealed the Ruby Princess cruise ship which is docked at Port Kembla is unlikely to leave until at least Thursday.

* Foreign Minister Marise Payne is pushing for an independent, international inquiry into how the COVID-19 pandemic happened and was handled.

SPORT

* NRL boss Todd Greenberg’s four-year-reign is over after he quit on Monday

* A financially-battered Cricket Australia has stood down most of its staff for the rest of the financial year on 20 per cent pay.

* The AFL, NRL, A-League, Super Rugby and Super Netball competitions have also been postponed.

ECONOMICS

* The Australian share market has plunged after the price of oil dropped to its lowest level since 1999. The S&P/ASX200 to fell 2.45 per cent to close at 5,353 points while the All Ordinaries saw a 2.34 per cent decline to 5,414..

* The Grattan Institute has released a report predicting the jobless rate could reach up to 15 per cent, outstripping Treasury’s forecasted 10 per cent.

* Data from China showed the world’s second-largest economy had shrunk for the first time since at least 1992 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

GLOBAL CORONAVIRUS

* Cases: at least 2,407,699

* Deaths: at least 165,093

* Recovered: at least 625,419 

 

 

Source: dailymail UK

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