News National Coronavirus restrictions eased in the NT, Queensland and WA. This is how it works

Coronavirus restrictions eased in the NT, Queensland and WA. This is how it works

The Northern Territory is inviting Australians to visit the top end. Photo: Getty Photo: Getty
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Across the country, some states and territories are moving to gradually ease coronavirus restrictions as our national infection rate slows.

Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have announced plans to loosen social distancing rules.

But what do these new guidelines mean in practice?

In the NT, some parks and reserves will start to re-open from noon on Friday in the territory’s biggest step toward winding back restrictions.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner announced on Monday that Territorians would be able to camp, swim and hike at newly opened parks and reserves.

“If you head down to Litchfield this weekend, don’t do a Bondi (Beach),” Mr Gunner told ABC Radio Darwin.

“Be really respectful of each other, and try and give people as much space as possible.”

The popular Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta national parks, which are managed by the federal government, will stay closed to visitors and other non-essential travellers until 11.59pm on June 18.

Further updates regarding social distancing rules at NT campsites will be announced later this week.

Back to the beach

From Saturday, Queenslanders will be allowed to have fish and chips on the beach again, go for a drive in a car or on a motorbike within 50 kilometres of their home, and shop for non-essential items like clothing and books.

From May 2, Queenslanders will be able to sunbathe at nearby beaches if they adhere to social distancing rules. Photo: Getty

They can also go bushwalking at national parks.

Families, or singles with one other person, will be permitted to have picnics, sunbathe at the beach or go boating.

Elderly people have been encouraged to go for scenic drives as an escape from home isolation.

The Queensland border will, however, remain closed.

Hiking and camping

In WA, up to 10 people are now allowed to gather outdoors and indoors.

Non-contact recreational activities like picnics, fishing, boating, hiking and camping will also be allowed to resume.

Open homes and display villages would also be permitted.

A maximum of 10 people will be allowed at weddings – an increase from the five-person limit – but the 10-person limit remains for funerals.

All public playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor gym equipment will remain closed in the state.

Restaurants, cafes, food vans and food courts remain restricted to takeaway and home delivery.

Groups of up to 10 people can go to the park in WA. Photo: Getty

Although the easing of restrictions will provide some relief to people in Queensland, the NT and WA, we must not relax yet.

Tough lockdown restrictions could be reimposed at any moment if too many people get complacent and stop taking social distancing rules seriously.

When announcing the eased restrictions on Sunday, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk warned: “If we do see mass gatherings, I will not hesitate to clamp back down”.

Even though you will soon be able to sunbathe at the beach in Queensland, you must not share a towel with another person who is not a member of your household.

You are allowed to go with household members or with one other person, but you must practise social distancing.

And you are only allowed to drive there if it is located within 50 kilometres of your home.

Do not go to the beach if it looks crowded, otherwise we could end up with a situation like Sydney, where councils have closed off popular beaches after crowds of people ignored health advice and continued to flock to them.

Randwick Council has closed off beaches in Coogee, Clovelly and Maroubra, bar limited access over the weekend.

Manly and Dee Why beaches will remain closed indefinitely.

Queenslanders have also been urged not to enter national parks if car parks were full, or to find another picnic venue if they arrived at a crowded one.

The measures will be reviewed in two weeks, with additional relaxations possible if cases remain low.

In WA, even though you can now attend gatherings of up to 10 people, you must keep your distance of 1.5 metres apart.

Meanwhile, other states remain in lockdown.

Restrictions in Victoria are not expected to be eased until at least May 11.

From Friday in New South Wales, groups of two adults — and their children if they have any — will be able to visit other households for social gatherings.

Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT are yet to make any announcements.