Some states will begin ramping up normal life faster than expected but would-be travellers have been told to keep dreaming when it comes to an interstate holiday.
NSW recorded just two new coronavirus cases on Thursday and Victoria had three, while three states have no active cases – South Australia, ACT and Northern Territory.
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The speeding up of restrictions easing comes as a survey reported in The Sydney Morning Herald found 52 per cent of Australians were happy with the current pace but one in three were worried it was too fast.
Major department store Myer has also signalled it is getting back to business, announcing it will reopen the rest of its stores across Australia next week.
The bulk of the retailer’s 60 stores will all be open on Wednesday after almost two months without customers inside the shops.
South Australia is moving earlier than initially planned to allow more patrons in cafes and restaurants and looks set to move onto stage two of its roadmap to recovery ahead of schedule.
The SA government is expected to release details on how more restrictions will be eased from June 5, with different rules to apply to various business sectors.
It’s cleared the way for pubs to be allowed to welcome more patrons than the 20 originally planned.
The NSW premier has also flagged more people could be allowed to dine in restaurants and cafes in the coming weeks as the government works to boost the economy.
Meanwhile, thousands of students will sit Victorian Certificate of Education exams in November, a month earlier than planned, starting the week of November 9.
The states are currently transitioning through phase one of the federal government’s three-stage recovery framework.
Phase two will allow indoor theatres, concerts, stadiums and galleries to open with 20 patrons, the reopening of camping grounds, local and regional travel and consideration of interstate travel.
Interstate travel is listed in phase three which the Prime Minister suggested could happen by the end of July.
However, tourism operators who had been hoping for a domestic holiday revival have become increasingly agitated about the border wars heating up between states that appear intent on locking out interstate arrivals.
During the pandemic lockdown, tourism marketing agencies launched advertising “dreaming campaigns” designed to remind people about popular holiday destinations for when the pandemic ends.
But Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) CEO Daniel Gschwind said it was time to stop dreaming and wake up the domestic tourism industry by reopening borders.
“At some point we want to be able to turn those dreams into reality,” he said.
Premier Annastasia Palaszczuk says her state’s borders will remain closed until the number of coronavirus cases in the southern states falls and has urged Queenslanders to holiday locally this winter.
Australians drinking through pandemic
Parents stressed out by home schooling during the coronavirus pandemic are turning to alcohol.
One in five parents have started drinking daily, or every other day, in front of their children since the lockdown began, new statistics show.
A quarter of parents blame the stress of teaching kids for hitting the bottle, while one in three put their drinking down to coronavirus-fuelled anxiety and stress.
Parents of nine to 12 year olds were drinking most, with Millennial parents drinking more than those from Generation X and Baby Boomers.
Erin Lalor from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, which surveyed 1000 parents across Australia, is concerned about the health impacts as well as the message it might send to kids.
“If you are feeling stressed or anxious, it’s best to avoid drinking alcohol because it can make these feelings worse,” Dr Lalor said on Friday
“It’s also essential that children don’t learn to view alcohol as a coping mechanism.”
Underemployment costing Australia
One in five Australians do not have enough work to support themselves and their families, a new study shows.
Think tank Per Capita has released a discussion paper looking at the economic cost of underemployment in Australia, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It points to Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data from April, where the monthly increase of underemployment was 50 per cent, or more than 600,000 people.
The labour force under-utilisation rate is about 20 per cent, so one in five Australians does not have sufficient work to support themselves and their families.
The report says that there was a crisis of insecure work before COVID-19, with wages and productivity being suppressed by slack in the labour market.
Report author Matthew Lloyd-Cape says underemployment is one of the biggest drags on the economy.
“(It’s) stifling wages and consumption, fuelling the productivity crisis, and ruining careers,” he said.
Australia’s 20 per cent youth underemployment was among the highest of any advanced economy before coronavirus.
It’s now at more than 27 per cent, with more than a quarter of young people in the labour market unable to find enough hours.
Per Capita says eliminating underemployment could inject more than $24 billion in wages into the economy each year while providing the government with billions in tax revenue.
Australia has recorded 7081 cases, with only 509 active cases remaining. South Australia, ACT and Northern Territory have no active cases.
The national death toll is 100 – NSW 49, Victoria 18, Tasmania 13, Western Australia nine, Queensland six, SA four, ACT 3. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in both state’s counts).
NSW on Thursday recorded two new COVID-19 cases, including a student from Saint Ignatius’ College in Riverview, Sydney.
Another three cases of coronavirus have been linked to an abattoir in Melbourne’s west, bringing the cluster to 106 people.