News Coronavirus ‘Let’s not party’: Australians warned as restrictions ease

‘Let’s not party’: Australians warned as restrictions ease

This weekend sees the reopening of some pubs and restaurants, but Australians are being warned to heed health advice. Photo: AAP
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Australians are being warned not to take their new-found freedoms lightly for fear of sparking a second wave of the deadly coronavirus.

States and territories have begun the first stage of a three-stage process to lift restrictions on outdoor and indoor gatherings and business operations.

Australians will get to sit in pubs, cafes and restaurants for the first time in weeks after isolation and social-distancing measures kept the lid on infections and COVID-19 deaths.

But Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone urged people to remain vigilant because the virus is still present in the community and could flare up as hot spots or small outbreaks.

“If we do the wrong things, we risk undoing all the gains that we’ve made so far, Dr Batone told the ABC on Saturday.

“So, the message is, yes, appreciate all the efforts, appreciate the opportunity to release some of those measures, but let’s not have a party, let’s not go to town.”

He said people must still maintain social distance, cough etiquette, washing hands regularly and staying away from others if they are unwell.

“Those messages are really the backbone as we progressively lift those restrictions,” he said.

Dr Bartone’s sentiments were echoed by Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.

“Just because you can do more things, doesn’t mean you should do those things,” she said

“It’s important that everyone understands this pandemic is not over, we have a long way to go still”.

In Queensland, restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs have been allowed to open with 10 sit-down customers.

Pubs have also reopened in the Northern Territory.

ACT and NSW are also easing restrictions, and Victoria is having its first weekend of being able to have up to five visitors at a person’s home.

Victoria has stopped short of easing restrictions on restaurants and cafes in line with other states.

The number of cases breached 7000 on Friday, but the death toll from the pandemic remains at 98, extremely low by international standards.

However, Victoria has recorded another 11 new cases, including a further two infections connected to the west Melbourne abattoir cluster, which now stands at 98.

Elsewhere, a McDonald’s restaurant in the north Melbourne suburb of Fawkner has recorded an additional case, with the outlet’s cluster growing to 11.

There was only one new case in Queensland.

The national cabinet met on Friday and endorsed a $48.1 million mental health response plan that is set to roll out in coming months, including research and support services.

It comes as the economic impact of the pandemic was plain to see in new figures this week with almost 600,000 people recorded as losing their job in April, the largest one-month employment fall on record.

-with AAP