Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday that the extraordinary lockdown restrictions across Australia, imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus, may begin to be eased in four weeks – but only if certain criteria are met.
“In about a month from now there will be changes to the baseline restrictions that we put in place a few weeks ago,” Morrison said in a press conference, adding that three benchmarks would need to be met before that occurred. “When we have in place the broader testing regime surveillance, the automated contract regime in place, and we have scaled out our capacity to respond to outbreaks, that is what we are looking to do in the next four weeks.
“Build that up and then what the states and territories and ourselves are working on – what you would call high-value, low-risk economic activities – that we will be able to start up more of,” he added.
Earlier this week the government announced the creation of a new opt-in app that will use bluetooth technology to alert Australians if they’ve been in contact with someone infected by the virus.
“Our public-health response has to get even stronger if we are going to be able to relax distancing and take us through this pandemic with the least amount of social disruption but the best possible public-health control,” Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy told the press.
Even though certain lockdown measures may be lifted, Morrison was clear that social distancing guidelines will remain in place for the “foreseeable future”.
“If we relax the distancing measures that are stopping or reducing that community transmission, that will inevitably lead to some more outbreaks of community transmission,” Prof Murphy explained. “Unless we are prepared as a nation to detect those outbreaks really early and get on top of them and control them and isolate the cases and quarantine the contacts, we could end up with large community outbreaks.”