Peter Gutwein adds that he is “looking at” easing restrictions across the entire state:
I think it’s fair to say that we are starting to get on top of this and I think that over time, we will gradually be able to look at restrictions being lifted. But we will need to step into that carefully and cautiously, always with an eye to the fact that we have an older and more vulnerable population.
Tasmania will lift its strict north-west lockdown on Monday
Tasmania’s premier, Peter Gutwein, has just announced that the additional restrictions imposed on the state’s north-west will be lifted by Monday.
Additional restrictions had been placed on the region due to a coronavirus cluster among health workers, which was traced to the Ruby Princess cruise ship.
Up to 5,000 people who were healthcare workers and their families were placed under quarantine, and non-essential businesses and shops were banned.
But on Friday Gutwein said these severe restrictions will be lifted, though the entire state would continue to have its existing restrictions.
“We are confident that those additional restrictions, placed on the north-west on Sunday almost three weeks ago, the 12 April, will be able to lift,” he said.
“Meaning on Monday the fourth of May, the businesses and services which were impacted by those additional restrictions can reopen, and the workers and staff will be able to return to work.
“It’s important to note this will only be the lifting of the additional restrictions. The statewide restrictions in place in terms of personal movement, the operation of certain businesses, will still apply.”
The north-west outbreak has been linked to 11 deaths so far.
There are now less than 80 active cases in Queensland, with 11 people in hospital and four people in intensive care. There are still 2,700 Queenslanders in quarantine.
It has now been 93 days since the state’s first case.
Asked when Queensland could be declared “Covid-free”, Jeannette Young said it would take weeks.
“For Queensland to be Covid-free, we would have to have no active cases and we probably have to wait for two incubation periods to be sure.”
Queensland records zero new cases
Queensland’s health minister, Stephen Miles, has announced there have been no new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours as the state gears up to ease restrictions at the weekend.
That means there have only been eight cases in the state this week.
But Miles warned Queenslanders to still keep a 1.5-metre distance from other people, and not to become complacent.
“Our message today is, this weekend, as we ease those restrictions, let’s not mess it up,” he said. “Let’s keep it up. Let’s keep getting the zero results.”
The state’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, said Queensland could then see more restrictions lifted in future.
But that will depend on the weekend.
“We’ll immediately get feedback about what people have done,” she said. “If we see large gatherings in places, that would concern us greatly and we’ll have to rethink.”
But she says there was no reason for transmission to increase under the new rules, because people were supposed to only be primarily with their household.
In the past 24 hours, Victoria police have issued 74 fines and conducted 651 spot checks.
They fined four people drinking alcohol in a shopping centre carpark and 10 people who gathered at a private residence for a birthday party.
Police have now conducted a total of 33,556 spot checks since 21 March.
Here is the precise wording of the amendment to the NSW public health order that has allowed today’s relaxation of restrictions.
A spokesperson from Gladys Berejiklian’s office told Guardian Australia that visiting friends would be considered beneficial for mental health and would, therefore, constitute “care”.
Previously, the deputy premier, John Barilaro, also said you can “can visit family & friends for any reason”.
But, as always with enforcement, this can depend on the discretion of police, their interpretation of the law and what you precisely are doing.
Daniel Andrews is speaking now.
The Victorian premier says the state will consider “options we will have to potentially ease [restrictions]” in the lead-up to 11 May.
But he asks people to continue staying at home for now, even as other states ease restrictions, because Victoria has had a higher rate of community transmission than other states:
We have come too far, we have achieved too much for us to give that back, for us to fritter that hard work away.
I know it is easy to think that well, with such low case numbers maybe the worst has passed, maybe this is over, I just want to remind every Victorian this is very, very fragile, we saw a spike in numbers just a couple of days ago, we have had outbreaks in lots of different settings.
We have also had significant community transmission in Victoria as well. About 10% of our cases we can’t track them back to an overseas traveller. Not every state is like that. Some states have no community transmission at all.
He also calls on Victorians to get tested for “mildest symptoms” and says the state has ramped up testing:
The more tests we can get done in the lead-up to 11 May, the more options we will have to potentially ease some of the rules that I know are frustrating.
NSW urges testing for ‘mildest symptoms’ before weekend
NSW has recorded nine new coronavirus cases overnight.
Gladys Berejiklian said this morning that the state had conducted more than 7,000 tests in the past 24 hours, with nine positive results.
And the premier urged people with symptoms to get tested today, before the weekend’s expected flurry of activity once restrictions ease in the state.
“Please come forward even if you have the mildest symptoms,” she said. “You don’t need to wait until Monday. You could be unintentionally passing on the disease without knowing you have it.”
NSW’s chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said three of the nine new cases were residents at Anglicare’s Newmarch House aged care home, four were community transmission cases and one was under investigation.
She also confirmed that the resident who died at Newmarch House yesterday was a 74-year-old man.
The Australian stock market is set to open lower today after what has been a record month of growth.
After the sharp falls at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the past month was the best April for the stock market since 1988.
But after a 2.4% rise yesterday it is expected to fall today, according to AAP.
The SPI 200 futures contract was down 123 points, or 2.22%, to 5,417.0 points at 8am.
In the US, unemployment claims topped 30m and Amazon and American Airlines’ earnings disappointed traders.
In Australia, property price data for April is due to be published today.
In some brief US news, President Donald Trump has just claimed, about 30 minutes ago, that he has seen evidence that Covid-19 was created in a lab.
When asked if he had seen evidence that gives him a “high degree of confidence” that it originated in a lab in Wuhan, he said: “Yes, I have”.
This is a direct contradiction of America’s own national intelligence community, and scientists.
The director of national intelligence said: “The intelligence community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the Covid-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”
Australia’s intelligence community has said similar.
In today’s briefing, Trump appeared to discredit his own director of national intelligence when asked about it.
A bit more detail on those relaxed restrictions coming in today and tomorrow.
In Queensland, from Saturday:
- You will be allowed to go for picnics and non-essential drives, and national parks will reopen, but you are not allowed to travel more than 50km from your home.
- You can shop for non-essential items.
- The “two-person person rule” is still in effect, meaning that you can only be joined by one other person who isn’t in your household – and still keep physically distant. Previously, Annastacia Palaszczuk said people inside a home were allowed two additional guests.
- The Queensland border remains closed unless you are a resident or essential worker.
In NSW, from today:
- Two adults and the children in their care are allowed to visit another person’s home, for any reason.
- You still have to comply with physical distancing – which means keeping apart, avoiding unnecessary contact and not crowding small spaces.
- There are no limits on how many guests someone is allowed a day as long as there are no more than two adults at a time.
In WA, since Monday:
- Gathering limits increased from two people to 10.
- People are allowed to leave home for recreational activities including picnics, fishing, boating and camping.
- Maximum number of people at a wedding raised from five to 10.
- Border restrictions remain in place.
Five ADF personnel test positive
Five Australian defence force personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 after contracting it in the Middle East.
The five people are asymptomatic and arrived back in Australia this morning, AAP reports. They were were tested after a number of local contractors became infected with the virus.
Four returned to Australia on Friday morning on a routine defence force flight and were taken to Royal Darwin hospital for assessment.
The fifth, who had completed deployment, previously returned to Australia and is in mandatory isolation in Brisbane.
The Australian defence force says it decided to test personnel “after being notified that a number of locally engaged contractors had tested positive”.
“Defence will take all necessary measures in consultation with our coalition partners, relevant host nations and Australian federal, state and territory governments to ensure ADF personnel receive the treatment and care required,” it said on Friday.
13th resident dies at Newmarch House aged care home
Another resident of Anglicare’s Newmarch House in western Sydney has died.
Anglicare said the resident died yesterday afternoon, bringing the total number of Covid-19 deaths at the aged care home to 13.
Yesterday the operator announced that three more residents had tested positive. There are now at least 37 who have contracted the virus, and 22 staff members.
“This is a time of great grief for the family and we want to extend our deepest sympathies,” Anglicare said this morning.
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic in Australia this Friday.
Restrictions in NSW ease today – with two adults (and any dependent children) now allowed to visit another person’s house for any reason. Restrictions will also ease in Queensland from Saturday, though travel will be restricted to within 50km.
A flight from India will also arrive in WA today, bringing more than 100 Australians back.
Overnight, around the world:
- Russia’s prime minister has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Mikhail Mishustin was supposed to be leading the country’s response to the pandemic but has said he will now self-isolate.
- Germany will ease restrictions, opening museums, galleries, zoos and playgrounds and allow religious services to resume.
- Brazil announced a record number of new cases in 24 hours (7,218). The death toll rose by 435 to 5,901.