Restrictions may ease sooner than thought


The National Cabinet will meet today to review Australia's progress in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and discuss whether more restrictions can be eased.

Social distancing restrictions may be lifted earlier than planned, with larger gatherings and more businesses possibly reopening in just a few weeks.

Australia has reached a non-quarantine infection rate of less than 10 new cases a day, with health authorities believing an infection rate at this level would allow more of the economy to safely reopen, The Australian revealed.

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Australia has recorded a total 7157 cases of COVID-19, with 3090 in New South Wales, 1628 in Victoria, 1058 in Queensland, 440 in South Australia, 577 in Western Australia, 228 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 29 in the Northern Territory.

Restrictions may ease sooner than thought

Lockdown restrictions imposed to slow the spread of COVID-19 may be lifted earlier than previously thought, with the National Cabinet to meet on Friday to discuss Australia's progress.

Lifting restrictions earlier than planned and allowing larger gatherings could be recommended within two weeks, according to The Australian.

The publication revealed Australia has reached a non-quarantine infection rate of less than 10 new cases a day, with health authorities believing an infection rate at this level would allow more of the economy to safely reopen.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a three-stage plan in which social distancing restrictions would be eased.

Stage one involved allowing five visitors at a home, groups of 10 in public places and businesses and allowing restaurants and cafes to reopen while still abiding by distancing measures.

Stage two would allow gatherings of 20 people in their homes, in businesses and in public places.

Gyms, beauty salons, cinemas, galleries and amusement parks would be able to reopen, as would caravan and camping groups. Some interstate travel could also be permissible in stage two.

Stage three would see allowable gathering sizes increased to 100, meaning pubs and clubs could reopen.

Other businesses and places of gathering like food courts and saunas would also reopen.

Mr Morrison had hoped each state and territory would reach stage three by July, but with the country's low infection rate the federal government is hopeful it could come even sooner.

Aussie workers to be targeted in testing blitz

Australians working in at-risk jobs are expected to be targeted for a coronavirus testing blitz in a bid to reduce the risk of a spike in new virus cases.

The National Cabinet is expected to approve a proposal to ramp up testing for aged care employees, emergency department personnel, general practitioners and fly-in, fly-out workers, The Courier Mail has revealed.

This comes just days after Queensland recorded another COVID-19 death, bringing the national death toll to 103.

The state's chief health officer Jeannette Young said testing needed to be ramped up across Queensland if restrictions were going to continue to ease.

"For us to go forward and to lift those very onerous restrictions that have been in place, we must do more testing," Dr Young said on Thursday.

Queensland has the resources to test 10,000 people a day.

"We've not even reached half that number," she added.

Aussies may soon be able to travel to Israel

Israel wants to join Australia and New Zealand's looming travel bubble, presenting its case as a stepping stone for travellers to visit other coronavirus safe countries in Europe.

The Middle East nation is one of few countries to successfully contain the spread of the deadly virus and is lobbying the Morrison Government for special travel exemptions, according to The Guardian.

The deal would involve direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney to Tel Aviv, where tourists can then access European nations in a similar position including Greece, Norway, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The Israeli government hopes tourism between the two countries could return by December.

Originally published as Restrictions may ease sooner than thought