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28 Apr 2020 | 10:26 AM UTC

Australia: COVID-19 restrictions to ease in New South Wales May 1 /update 21

Australia News Alert

Authorities to ease COVID-19 restrictions in New South Wales on May 1; follow authority directives

TIMEFRAME expected from 4/28/2020, 12:00 AM until 5/30/2020, 11:59 PM (Australia/Melbourne). COUNTRY/REGION Australia, New South Wales, Victoria state

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Event

On Tuesday, April 28, authorities announced that some coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions would be eased in the state of New South Wales (NSW) effective Friday, May 1. Up to two adults and their children will be able to visit the homes of friends and family. The reason for the visit must still be specifically to care for someone, including visits on the grounds of mental health. Such visits may last overnight, and urban NSW residents may travel to rural areas to visit friends or family. Residents are expected to continue to maintain social distancing on such visits, and have been urged to be especially careful when visiting the elderly. Three beaches in Sydney, including Bondi Beach, were opened to local residents on Tuesday.

Victoria state premier Andrew Daniels announced on April 28 that Victoria would consider easing lockdown measures on Tuesday, May 12, following a mass-testing initiative to gather data on the state's COVID-19 outbreak. Andrews announced on Tuesday, April 14, that the current state of emergency has been extended until at least Monday, May 11.

Earlier, on Sunday, April 26, authorities announced that some restrictions would be eased in the states of Western Australia and Queensland, due to low numbers of new reported cases. As of Monday, April 27, gatherings of up to ten people are allowed in Western Australia. People are also permitted to leave home for non-contact recreational activities including hiking, boating, camping, fishing, and picnics in parks with household members. In Queensland, as of Saturday, May 2, individuals will be allowed to go for drives within 50 km (31 m) of their homes. Certain recreational activities like picnics will be permitted, groups of two will be allowed to go out together, and shopping for non-essential items will be allowed. A distance of 1.5 meters (5 ft) between people will have to be maintained in public, and both states' premiers have warned that if large gatherings are observed in violation of the limited easing, strict restrictions will be re-imposed.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday, April 16, that the existing restrictions will remain in place for an additional four weeks. Within the four-week period, authorities plan to significantly increase testing to identify any local COVID-19 outbreaks so that the government can implement a more focused response to cases in the country. At the end of four weeks, officials will re-evaluate the lockdown measures in place.

Australians should remain at home unless buying essentials, exercising, going to work, or seeking medical care. Residents over 70 years of age have been asked to self-isolate. Individual states and territories are responsible for enforcing and deciding specific movement and business restrictions. Generally, non-essential services, and public spaces including bars, clubs, cinemas, gyms, indoor sporting venues, and places of worship remain closed. Supermarkets, shopping centers, office buildings, banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, and convenience stores are among the businesses allowed to remain open.

Air carrier Virgin Australia announced on Thursday, April 9, that most of its domestic flights will be temporarily suspended. As of Friday, April 10, the airline will only operate one daily route between Melbourne and Sydney from Sunday through Friday.

All Australian citizens returning from abroad will be quarantined in hotels for 14 days at the government's expense. Only Australian citizens, returning permanent residents, and their immediate family members are permitted to enter Australia until further notice.

As of April 28, there are 6721 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 83 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:

  • Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

 

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