Scott Morrison has endorsed plans for states to reopen, but excluding hotspots. He said Australia’s performance is remarkable in handling outbreaks of COVID-19.
Scott Morrison has endorsed plans for states to reopen, but excluding hotspots. He said Australia’s performance is remarkable in handling outbreaks of COVID-19.

New rules for states as PM flags restrictions easing

Easing of restrictions will continue despite the Victorian outbreak, Premiers and the Prime Minister agreed at National Cabinet today.

There will also be the potential to move to a easier "two square metre rule", instead of the four square metre rules currently in place.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said "the curve remains flat", despite challenges in Victoria.

"Where you get bumps and when you get outbreaks then you need to manage them and you need to respond to them, and that is exactly what is happening," he said.

"This could occur in Queensland, it could occur in Western Australia, it could occur in Tasmania, New South Wales, in any other place.

"There will be outbreaks. What matters is the response."

Mr Morrison said all states agreed to continue with their plans to ease restrictions, with each to make their announcements in the coming days. Mr Morrison said the medical panel said smaller venues could move to a "two square metre rule" when their jurisdictions deemed appropriate.

"Smaller premises will be determined by the jurisdiction but, as a rule of them, that's around about 100 square metres," he said.

"So that means for much smaller premises that would have otherwise been trying to stick to a four-square metre rule arrangement, this just gives them a bit more room for them to be taking more patrons."

Mr Morrison has endorsed plans for states to reopen, but excluding hotspot areas in Melbourne.

He said he expected the states to reopen in July as they have previously outlined.

"I think that's a reasonable way to do that," he said.

"That's exactly what the Northern Territory Government is doing.

"If you've come from a hotspot, you have to go into quarantine, and that's entirely reasonable."

He referred to travellers to the NT having to sign a statutory declaration saying where they had just come from.

"What that does is reinforces that this is about where the hot spot is and these are localised outbreaks," Mr Morrison said.

"That's how you manage an outbreak. That's exactly what the Victorian Government is doing. That's how the New South Wales Government has also responded in terms of the hot zones."

It is a change in the stance from the Federal Government, which had previously seen senior Ministers calling for the states to reopen to each other without exception or "travel bubbles".

But this line from the Federal Government had been eased back once the Victorian outbreak started to take hold.

Queensland will reopen on July 10 "as far as I'm aware", Mr Morrison said, but he added the state was reviewing that date with announcements in the coming days.

"There is the existing date of July 10 and I understand they are reviewing that and making further announcements about that date," he said.

"As far as I'm aware the date is July 10.

"If there's any change to that, that's something the Premier would advise."

It is "reasonable" to expect international travel won't reopen for 12 months or more, with possible exceptions of New Zealand and some other Pacific nations, Mr Morrison said.

He said he hoped to be able to come to an arrangement with New Zealand, while there had been other Pacific nations that had expressed interest in travel bubbles with Australia given it's success in containing the virus so far.

"That doesn't necessarily mean that they will be invitations we take up," he said.

Mr Morrison said that globally the intensity of the virus was "escalating, not decelerating", so it was not unreasonable that international travel may not reopen for a year or more.

"No-one really knows and that's the problem. That's just the uncertainty we have to deal with," he said.

News Corp Australia


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