Some states of Australia have begun relaxing distancing rules, thanks to the country’s successful suppression of the deadly viral disease COVID-19. The easing has been gradual and varied depending on the state or territory.
The state of Queensland has reopened many national parks and has allowed people to go on small picnics. The Northern Territory, meanwhile, has also relaxed some restrictions and has set its sights on eliminating all measures by the end of June.
New South Wales has also allowed visiting friends or neighbours in groups no larger than two. Starting next weekend, 9 May, real estate agents will be allowed to conduct on-site auctions and property inspections.
The second most populous state of Victoria, which saw 13 new cases yesterday, 3 May, is set to retain its stringent measures until its state of emergency lapses on 11 May. Victoria’s health minister Jenny Mikakos said that the decision to relax rules after that date will hinge on the number of daily infections.
Over the past week, Australian health officials say the country has averaged only 13 new cases per day with daily infection rate of below 1%, a figure much lower than most other countries. Australia and neighbouring New Zealand have both been lauded for its efforts in keeping the pandemic contained in its borders, though the two countries’ measures will push both of them into recession.
The Australian government will meet on Friday to discuss when and how social distancing rules can be relaxed on a federal level. The government is pinning its hopes on the effectiveness of its voluntary coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe introduced last week. The app is set to play a key role in helping shape the federal government’s decisions further down the line.
As of yesterday, Australia has recorded 6,783 COVID-19 cases with 94 deaths.