Aus govt to discuss lifting COVID-19 restrictions on May 8

Canberra, May 1 (IANS) The Australian government is set to discuss and review of the first phase of removing the baseline COVID-19 restrictions on May 8, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.

The National Cabinet, which comprises the Prime Minister, state and territory leaders, was due to consider easing restrictions at a meeting later than that date, but Morrison said the meeting has been brought forward because of Australia's success in preventing the spread of COVID-19, reports Xinhua news agency.

“Australians have earned an early mark through the work that they have done,” Morrison told reporters following a virtual National Cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon.

“That decision will now be made next Friday (May 8), and we'll be meeting twice over the course of the next week to ensure that we work through the many things that have to be resolved in order to make those decisions.”

Leaders attending Friday's virtual meeting were briefed by the Treasury on economic impact that restrictions were having on Australia's economy.

“We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society,” Morrison said.

He said that Australia is currently on track to meet 11 of the 15 criteria for easing restrictions but urged Australians to continue downloading the government's COVIDSafe tracing app.

More than 3.5 million people have downloaded the app since it was launched on Sunday evening but the health department has previously said that in order for it to be effective at least 10 million people should install it.

“There are currently over three and a half million downloads and registrations, of the COVIDSafe app, but there needs to be millions more. The coronavirus is still out there. Our numbers may be low but it's still out there.”

So far, some restrictions were being lifted on a state-by-state basis rather than nationally.

Northern Territory (NT) Chief Minister Michael Gunner on Thursday revealed the plan to lift most restrictions in the NT, which has had only 27 confirmed cases of COVID-19, by June 5.

Steven Marshall, premier of South Australia (SA), on Thursday night followed by committing to a significant easing of restrictions within three weeks.

SA has had nine consecutive days without a new confirmed case of the virus and Marshall said that the state could return to normal life as early as May 21.

Brendan Murphy, Australia's chief medical officer, confirmed on Friday afternoon that more than 570,000 tests have been conducted nationally.

He said that health authorities will soon begin sample testing the public in an attempt to identify asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19.

As on Friday, there were 6,762 confirmed coronavirus cases in Australia, with 92 deaths.



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