Another month of pain: Australia will be in lock down for another four weeks as Scott Morrison announces the three benchmarks that Australia needs to hit before restrictions are lifted
- Coronavirus restrictions will be in place for at least four more weeks
- Wider testing and more rigorous contact tracing, need to be achieved
- Plans for local lock downs in the case of outbreaks need to be in place
- States and territories can remove restrictions before four weeks if they chose
Coronavirus restrictions will be in place for at least four more weeks as Australia continues to reduce the infection rate, Scott Morrison announced today after a National Cabinet meeting.
The Prime Minister listed three requirements that need to be fulfilled before restrictions can be removed.
Wider testing, more rigorous contact tracing involving an app and plans for local lockdowns to combat outbreaks need to be in place, he said.
So-called ‘baseline restrictions’ across the nation will be remain for at least four weeks until these three goals have been achieved.
It means that pubs, restaurants and gyms will be kept shut, large gatherings will remain banned and working from home will be encouraged where possible.
Weddings are still limited to five people and funerals to ten people.
However, elective surgery could be resumed on Tuesday when the National Cabinet meets again.
Australia’s biggest states will be able to relax some of the harsher restrictions before four weeks, if they chose to do so, Mr Morrison said.
For example, state premiers may relax rules that only allow people to leave the house for essential reasons.
‘States and territories that went further than those baselines… will be reviewing those in the meantime,’ Mr Morrison said.
He warned that lifting restrictions too fast could be catastrophic.
Lifting the restrictions may be challenging but not catastrophic. Hasn’t the country flattened the curve? But some would argue we will end up like Singapore and will need to lockdown the country again?
Well that’s their choice..Currently they are:
Australia is double their cases, but with over 50% recovered cases from the virus.
‘If you ease off too quickly too early, then you end up making the situation even worse and I don’t just mean in the health terms,’ he said.
‘If you move too early and the health response gets out of control then the economic consequences will be even worse. We need to keep it finely balanced.’
Too Early? Things will get out of control. Based on what?? Not if you put in place measures for the elderly, and those with specific health concerns, then the rest of the populous can get back to life as normal. And if the country is cautious then why are children being recommended to get back to school??
The Prime Minister said the government is working on an app that can tell people if they have come into contact with someone with the virus – but there are ‘privacy concerns’ to work through before it can be rolled out.
It will be similar to the trace app rolled out in Singapore, Mr Morrison said.
The Prime Minister said there need to be measures in place to rapidly re-introduce restrictions in certain areas if outbreaks occur, such as the one in north-west Tasmania.
‘You can’t rule out increasing potentially restrictions at some point if things got a bit out of control because the virus writes its own rules,’ he said.
Mr Morrison said social distancing and hand washing will be in place until a vaccine is found.
He also warned that Australia needs to brace for economic strife ahead.
Scott Morrison criticses the WHO – but says he will not walk away
At the end of his press conference today, Scott Morrison said the World Health Organisation has had ‘few poor outings lately’ – but defended the good work it does in the Pacific Region.
The WHO has come under fire from several member states, most notably US President Donald Trump, for being slow to call the crisis a pandemic and not advocating border shut downs.
Mr Morrison has also criticised the WHO for not banning wet markets in China.
Today he said: ‘I know they have had their criticism and it has been quite deserved and we have been frustrated.’
But Mr Morrison said he would not walk away from funding the WHO – after President Trump said he was halting payments to the organisation.
‘They do important work here in the Pacific and we will keep working with them,’ the Prime Minister said.
He said the WHO had helped with PNG’s polio outbreak in 2018, Fiji’s measles outbreak in 2019 and had been working in Western Pacific on eliminating measles tetanus.
Mr Morrison also announced a list of principals has been agreed with the states and territories regarding schools, including an acceptance that remote learning may be required even though in-classroom learning is preferable.
He said his two daughters will be sent back to their baptist school in Sydney as soon as classroom teaching is offered.
‘In relation to my own kids, I want my kids to go back to school and be taught in a classroom by a teacher.
‘That’s what I want to see happen, when a school in New South Wales that they go to can deliver that for them and I will happily have them back there in a heartbeat,’ he said.
Schools in New South Wales will re-open within five weeks, Premier Gladys Berejikilan said today.
Term two starts on 27 April and schools will return to some normality three weeks later.
In her press conference this morning, Ms Berejiklian said: ‘We envisage the school term will be very exactly the same as what the end of term one was like.
‘However, from week three of term two there will be more face-to-face contact for students.’
Schools in New South Wales will re-open within five weeks, Premier Gladys Berejikilan (pictured) said today
CORONAVIRUS CASES IN AUSTRALIA: 6,449
New South Wales: 2,886
South Australia: 433
Western Australia: 532
Australian Capital Territory: 103
Northern Territory: 28
TOTAL CASES: 6,449
On Wednesday Mr Morrison released a video asking teachers to agree to go back to work, saying: ‘Your students and their families are relying on you more than ever.’
The President of the Queensland Teachers Union told Mr Morrison to ‘butt out’ and insisted that teachers should not have to attend school.
President Kevin Bates claimed that ‘young people will not suffer’ from learning online – despite strong evidence that children learn far better in a classroom environment.
But health experts have repeatedly said schools are safe and on Wednesday afternoon Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth again re-iterated it was fine for schools to be open.
Children make up only two per cent of coronavirus cases in Australia, he said.
‘It’s the view of the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee that schools are safe places because of the low rates of transmission.’
He described teachers as ‘essential’ and said the AHPPC will advise the National Cabinet how to make schools even safer so they can re-open.
Australia has made significant progress in the fight against coronavirus, with a clear flattening of the curve on the graph that measures the daily infection rate
The Prime Minister said teachers are ‘more likely to catch coronavirus in the staffroom than they are in the classroom’ and said he was ‘very concerned’ about current levels of teaching.
‘I kept my kids in school up until the last week because they weren’t getting taught at school in that last week.
‘They were sitting in a room looking at a screen – that’s not teaching, that’s child minding and schools aren’t for child minding,’ he said.