News National States target stage three deadlines as WA abandons four-square-metre rule

States target stage three deadlines as WA abandons four-square-metre rule

Standing four square metres apart will no longer be necessary in Western Australia. Photo: Getty
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The four-square-metre social distancing rule will be ditched in Western Australia as states set targets for the much-anticipated stage three of pandemic recovery.

WA will be the first to test a reduced two-square-metre rule from next Saturday while allowing gatherings of up to 300 people.

It comes as most state and territory leaders told a national cabinet meeting on Friday they were hopeful of getting to stage three of the reopening by the end of July.

Stage three involves gatherings of 100 people, a reopening of state borders to travellers and possible international cross-Tasman and Pacific Island travel.

The Northern Territory will be the first to achieve stage three, setting a June 5 date, while Western Australia is hopeful of reaching that point mid-June.

Queensland has set out a timetable to hit stage two on June 12 and stage three on July 10, with Tasmania reaching that point three days later.

Victoria has pencilled in late-July for stage three, while South Australia and NSW have made no promises.

The ACT is aiming for mid-July.

“We’re on track and we’re making progress far sooner than we could have ever imagined several months ago,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said he remained optimistic interstate travel would restart nationally by July despite the ongoing border wars as states like Queensland and Tasmania hold out.

The three phases of the Federal Government’s Roadmap to Recovery.

Victoria is gearing up for a new set of restrictions to be lifted on Monday June 1, with cafes, restaurants, libraries, galleries, museums, amusement parks, places of worship, beauty clinics, nail salons and massage parlours all allowed 20 people to a space.

People will also be able to travel to holiday homes, caravan parks and camping grounds.

NSW is preparing to ease restrictions on religious services, funerals and weddings from Monday, bringing the rules closer to pubs and restaurants.

Scores of students in isolation

Almost 80 Victorian school students are in self isolation at home after a positive case at Keilor Downs Secondary College in Melbourne’s northwest/

The confirmed COVID-19 infection led to seven students across two other high schools being identified as close contacts of the student.

Now a total of 78 known contacts from St Albans Secondary College and Taylors Lakes Secondary College will enter a 14-day self-isolation, the health department told AAP.

Keilor Downs Secondary School is the centre of Victoria’s latest positive cases.

Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of Victorians working from home will have to continue for at least another month, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday.

The directive will be in place until at least until the end of June and is in contrast to advice in other states, where a staged return to workplaces is set to begin from June 1.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the directive would help avoid congestion in workplaces, lower foot traffic and decrease the number of people on public transport.

There were seven new cases recorded in Victoria on Friday, bringing the state’s total to 1634.

Trump dumps WHO

President Donald Trump says the United States is “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organisation.

Mr Trump accused the UN agency of failing to enact reforms in the face of US concerns over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and that it put too much faith in information from China.

“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will today be terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Mr Trump said.

“China’s cover-up of the Wuhan virus allowed the disease to spread all over the world.”

Mr Trump said last month the US was suspending funding to the WHO pending a review of the organisation.

India’s infections surge

India now tops China’s COVID-19 toll, having reported a jump of 7466 coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours – its biggest one-day surge, as the country relaxes lockdown measures.

The total number of infections rose to 165,799, the Health Ministry said on Friday in its daily morning update. This was the first time more than 7000 more cases were detected in a 24-hour period, following on from seven-consecutive days of more than 6000 cases per day.

There were 175 new deaths linked with COVID-19, taking the total number of deaths to 4706, surpassing the toll in neighbouring China, where the virus emerged last year.

Despite the rapidly increasing infections, India has progressively relaxed restrictions including opening up air travel.

-with AAP