Authorities in the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia announced on Friday, May 1, that they would be lifting the majority of the lockdown measures previously introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. From May 1, group limits will be removed for weddings, funerals, and sport, while parks and pools will also open. Locals must maintain a 1.5m (5ft) distance from others, but they can visit parks and swimming holes, and play non-contact sport. NT authorities also announced that from Friday, May 15, restaurants and pubs will be able to open, as well as gyms, nail salons, and libraries. They further stated that all restrictions would be removed in early June, subject to an evaluation of the impact from the above easing of restrictions. The territory has reported zero new infections over the past three weeks.
On Tuesday, April 28, New South Wales (NSW) authorities announced that some COVID-19 restrictions would be eased as of Friday, May 1. Up to two adults and their children will be able to visit the homes of friends and family 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, April 28.
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. On Tuesday, April 14, Daniels also extended the current state of emergency in the state until at least Monday, May 11.
Authorities announced on Sunday, April 26, that some restrictions would be eased in the states of Western Australia and Queensland, due to low numbers of newly 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 nonessential 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.
Individual states and territories are responsible for enforcing and deciding specific movements and business restrictions. Generally, nonessential 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.
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 May 1, there are 6766 confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 93 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
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.
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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