The National Cabinet met today and finalised the three-step plan to gradually remove baseline restrictions to allow the reopening of the Australian economy.
The three-step plan provides a pathway for States and Territories to move towards COVID safe communities in a way that best suits their individual circumstances, their current public health situation and local conditions.
Australia has so far been highly successful in ‘flattening the curve’. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Australia each day is very low. As a result we can now begin to take careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped us suppress the spread of this virus.
The National Cabinet is very clear: continued suppression of COVID-19 is about collective action. Success depends on maintaining our new community norms – physical distancing, good hygiene practices and downloading the COVIDSafe app to keep us all safe while we are out and about.
For businesses, this also means taking the time to prepare and develop a plan to operate in a COVID safe way to protect their customers and workers. To visit the Worksafe Australia COVID-19 planning toolkit, click here.
With every one of us playing our part, we should all feel safe and confident in leaving the house and starting to do some of the things we've missed in the last few months – like getting back to work, having a quick bite in a restaurant or cafe, attending auctions and open houses, and participating in group exercise.
For each of the major areas of restrictions we have set out three key steps between where we are now and where we want to be.
Step 1 will focus on carefully reopening the economy, and giving Australians opportunities to return to work and social activities, including gatherings of up to 10 people, up to 5 visitors in the family home and some local and regional travel.
Step 2 builds on this with gatherings of up to 20, and more businesses reopening, including gyms, beauty services and entertainment venues like galleries and cinemas.
Step 3 will see a transition to COVID safe ways of living and working, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted. Arrangements under step 3 will be the ‘new normal’ while the virus remains a threat. International travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will remain restricted.
I recommend you visit www.australia.gov.au to be linked to individual State and Territory resources.
National Cabinet also committed – as part of the three-step plan – to regular reviews and stocktake assessments of our progress every three weeks.
This will enable us to assess the impact of changes, track progress against our agreed precedent conditions, determine the pace of moving through the steps, and make any further decisions.
We are prepared for an increase in case numbers or possible outbreaks, but relapse should not be an option. A second wave is not something we can afford to go through. The cost to our people, our economy, our social fabric, is too high. We should look to build success in each step, and move forward safely and with confidence.
So long as Australians keep living and working in a COVID safe way, we'll be able to keep case numbers low and continue taking steps on the pathway to relaxing more restrictions.
National Cabinet's goal is to have a sustainable COVID safe Australia in July 2020. We've shown what we can achieve when we work together - we flattened the curve. Now, let's work together to get Australia COVID safe.
Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Senator for Western Australia