Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Australians that it’s time to “get out from under the doona”, announcing a three-stage “roadmap” for recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
“You know, you can stay under the doona forever and you’ll, you know, you’ll never face any danger,” Mr Morrison said when unveiling the plan in Canberra on Friday.
But we’ve gotta get out from under the doona at some time. And if not now, well, then when?”
The national cabinet agreed to the three-stage plan, to be reviewed every three weeks, for reopening Australian businesses as the coronavirus crisis eases.
However, the plan is not without risk, the prime minister admitted.
Lockdowns won’t be immediately lifting everywhere, though, with state and territory leaders responsible for easing restrictions at their own pace.
States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances,” Mr Morrison said.
“There will be undoubtedly be some human error. No-one is perfect.
Everyone is doing their best.”
Mr Morrison acknowledged that the nation faces a “complex and very uncertain” environment, but insisted that “we cannot allow our fear of going backwards from stopping us from going forwards”.
However, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews was firm on maintaining the state’s current strict lockdown rules, and said he would not consider easing restrictions until next week.
Nothing changes today, nothing changes tomorrow, nothing changes Sunday. The rules remain in place,” Mr Andrews said.
“On Monday and indeed throughout next week I will have a series of announcements to make.”
New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian also said that her state’s restrictions would remain unchanged this week.
The premier welcomed Mr Morrison’s plan to ease restrictions but noted that NSW has already eased several restrictions listed under the first stage.
There will be no further change to restrictions in NSW this week,” Ms Berejiklian said.
The NSW government will wait to assess data from May before considering any changes, but the premier said life could return to something resembling normal by late June.
NSW will “have its own timetable” within the national cabinet’s framework, and would analyse any eased restrictions before implementing them, she said.
You can’t compare NSW with the NT. That’s the beauty of the federation,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“But the beauty of the national cabinet is to get some really good advice on what the next batch of easing restrictions will look like, what the next phase after that will be.
We have to assess what those decisions are … you can’t make a decision and then implement it automatically, there’s eight million people we need to consider.”
The NSW government has already committed to resuming some face-to-face learning in schools on May 11 and flagged an increase in retail activity.
Two adults and their dependent children can also visit another household anywhere across the state.
In Queensland, premier Anastasia Palaszczuk announced an easing of restrictions, to begin next Saturday.
In South Australia, stage one will begin from Monday.
The Australian Capital Territory moved most swiftly, lifting some restrictions at 11.59pm on the day of the announcement.
Tasmania will begin easing restrictions on Monday.
In Western Australia, premier Mark McGowan said he would wait until Sunday to release his plan providing West Australians with a “safe and sensible” way to ease restrictions.
In the Northern Territory, chief minister Michael Gunner said on Thursday that the territory was leading the nation with its COVID-19 response, and announced a further easing of restrictions to take effect next weekend that will see people return to gyms, libraries, and dining in restaurants, cafes, and pubs.