Australians have spent nearly two months enduring some form of coronavirus lockdown.
Today’s press conference by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chief Health Officer Brendan Murphy outlined the biggest mass relaxing of restrictions since the outbreak began.
The plans are broken down into a three-step “roadmap” intended to be rolled out between now and July, with premiers and chief ministers expected to begin adopting step one of the plans in the days ahead.
Let’s break down today’s biggest announcements — but remember, these plans have to be legislated by your individual state or territory before they are effective, and some jurisdictions will move faster than others.
Two-person gatherings are increased
You will be allowed to have five visitors in your home (that’s your household plus five guests) and be in a group of 10 outdoors (that’s you plus nine people).
Some states have this gathering rule in place already, but this recommendation will be extended to all jurisdictions still living under the stricter two-person restrictions.
So, does that mean you’re allowed to go and kick the footy around with nine mates?
The authorities were asked this question directly today and the answer is yes.
“[It’s] 10 people training in a football field, it’s 10 people getting together in a park,” Professor Murphy said.
Outdoor boot camps can also start back up, and playgrounds, public swimming pools, libraries, community centres, and golf courses can reopen.
For indoor gatherings, Mr Morrison said step one would be “five guests in your own home” — meaning you can have your whole household plus five extras.
Cafes and restaurants can open
Another welcome announcement is that seated venues that serve food (so cafes and restaurants) can reopen, but they can only have 10 customers sitting at tables at any one time.
Venues with no seated dining (like bars, nightclubs, or casinos) will not be allowed to open until step three.
Food service venues must ensure there is space of four-square metres per person, and each patron exercises social distancing of 1.5m.
This 10-person rule also applies to retail businesses.
Funerals and weddings can be bigger
The 10-person rule at funerals has been extended to 30 people if the service is performed outdoors.
For weddings, you can have up to 10 people in attendance.
In Queensland, you can have an indoor funeral with 20 mourners or an outdoor funeral with 30.
Any changes to workplaces?
Steps one and two of the plan say Australians should continue to work from home if it works for you and your employer.
It’s not until step three when a physical return to workplaces is contemplated.
Professor Murphy urged Australians to drop a “soldier on” mindset when it came to attending work when sick.
“No more heroics of coming to work with a cough and a cold and a sore throat,” he said.
“That’s off the agenda for every Australian for the foreseeable future.
“I think we’ve all been guilty of that at various times. I know I have.
“We’re all going to have to change that mentality.”
What’s the status on travel?
Step one of the roadmap allows “recreational travel of day trips up to 150km”, the Prime Minister said.
This is likely to be within your state or territory, unless you are bordering on another region and have a permit or are otherwise permitted to cross.
Mr Morrison said step two could involve some interstate travel.
“Stage two and three are able to gradually increase travel distances and the number of businesses open in time for the June school holidays,” he said.
It’s only at step three that authorities will consider trans-Tasman travel between Australia and New Zealand.
Any update on the early access to super scheme?
The Government’s early access to super scheme, which allows people financially affected by the coronavirus pandemic to access some of their retirement savings early, was frozen today after the ATO detected alleged identity fraud.
Mr Morrison said he was not surprised fraudsters attempted to target the scheme, from which $10 billion had already been accessed.
“Fraud is possible in any program, anywhere,” he said.
“Over my government experience, I have been in immigration, I have been in social services, and I have been in treasury, and I can tell you, fraudsters try and have a crack at every single one of those systems every single day.
“So, the fact that people have tried to have a crack at this doesn’t surprise me.”
He said the scheme would be frozen for at least 24 hours while the incident was investigated.
What about steps two and three?
The separation of the restrictions into three steps means each step can be assessed before the next is implemented.
This means authorities can check there are no unacceptable outbreaks before moving on to the next step.
Mr Morrison said each restriction would be reviewed by the National Cabinet three weeks after it was implemented.
“They’re not formal reviews — I’d describe them more as stocktakes as to where the framework is at, and looking at where all the states are, and how we’re going towards our ultimate aspiration of being [at Step 3] in July,” he said.
Step two will include gatherings anywhere of up to 20 people, with gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries, amusement parks, caravan parks and camping grounds to reopen.
Step three meanwhile will see gatherings increased to 100, a physical return to workplaces, nightclubs, food courts, and saunas open, with all interstate travel and potential international travel on the table.
When will step one be in effect in your state or territory?
South Australia: Monday, May 11
Queensland: Saturday, May 15
Victoria: To be confirmed by Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday, May 11
Tasmania: Some phases of step one on Monday, May 11, the rest on Monday, May 18
Northern Territory: No statement yet, but NT authorities have already introduced a roadmap out of restrictions
New South Wales: Authorities say there will be no further changes “this week”
If your state or territory isn’t listed here, your premier or chief minister hasn’t made an announcement on this yet.