Prime Minister Scott Morrison has released a three-step road map for relaxing restrictions put in place to stop the spread of coronavirus, but it will be up to each state and territory to decide how quickly each step will be introduced.
Under the three-step plan agreed by the national cabinet on Friday, the first stage includes the opening of restaurants, cafes and shopping centres but workplaces will be limited to no more than 10 people in a business or public place.
Australians should expect to continue to see clusters and outbreaks of COVID-19 as the economy re-opens, Mr Morrison said, and states and territories would need to hold their nerve while going down this path.
"It is our goal to move through all of these steps to achieve that COVID safe economy in July of this year. In this plan, we walk before we run," Mr Morrison said.
"We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, if we wish to reclaim the ground we lost, we cannot be too timid. There will be risks. There will be challenges. There will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be set backs.
"Not everything will go to plan. There will be inconsistencies. States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances."
The health system was ready for such outbreaks, he said, and tools like COVIDSafe app would also be used to try and quickly detect and squash any outbreaks.
"Outbreaks are not a reason to slow things down. Outbreaks are going to happen. All Premiers and chief ministers understand that. And so it's how you respond to them," Mr Morrison said.
Households will be allowed five visitors under stage one, but Mr Morrison said there should be no expectation that states and territories will move to stage one straight away.
Working from home arrangements are expected to continue under step one and step two where it works for employers and employees.
Libraries, community centres and playgrounds will be allowed under stage one, as will home sales and auctions, outdoors boot camps and local and regional travel.
Under stage one weddings may have up to 10 guests in addition to the couple and the celebrant and funerals will be able to have up to 20 mourners indoors and 30 outdoors. Religious gatherings will be able to have up to 10 people and every gathering must record contact details.
Under step two gatherings of up to 20 people will be allowed outside of homes, with gyms, beauty therapists, cinemas, theatres and amusement parks to be able to open if the restricted numbers are enforced.
Galleries and museums and some interstate travel are also expected to be allowed under stage two.
Pubs and clubs could be allowed to have seated dining under the restrictions on the number of people on each step, but gaming venues and night clubs and bars look set to wait until stage three to be allowed to re-open.
Stage three is likely to include gatherings of up to 100 people, return to workplaces and interstate travel, and could even include trans-Tasman travel and international student travel.
International travel generally is not part of the plan, which will be reviewed every three weeks.
"There's nothing on our radar which would see us opening up international travel in the foreseeable future," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said the pace at which states and territories move through the stages is completely under the control of state leaders, but he expects all stages to have been moved through by July.
Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said stage one was well-defined, while more work needed to be done to determine what was in and out in steps two and three.
Despite the relaxations, Professor Murphy also implored Australians to continue to maintain social distancing, and to stay home when they have any symptoms at all.
"The virus is still there, it's still in our community. That's why, despite our very good position, we've got to be very cautious and wary with our next steps," he said.
"There's not many countries in the world like Australia that's in a position to start gently relaxing measures with such low case numbers, we don't want to lose the control we've got."
"Everyone continues to practise that physical distancing all the time. Everyone maintains good hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, everyone stays home when they're unwell. No matter how mild your cold or your cough, stay home when you're unwell, and please get a COVID test," Professor Murphy said, labelling the days of "heroics" of turning up to work with a cold as over.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr, speaking on ABC radio on Friday afternoon, echoed Dr Murphy's message.
Mr Barr said situations in which employees felt compelled to attend work even when they were sick represented " Australia's greatest risk point" in suppressing the virus in the future.
Mr Barr indicated that national cabinet was considering policy changes to manage the potential problem.
"One of the things that has been a discussion point, where are our blind spots ... where our are risk points? It's people that feel they have to go to work even when they are sick," he said.
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