The Prime Minister has outlined changes to indoor and outdoor gatherings, how international students might return to Australia and when some states might reopen their borders.
Scott Morrison gave his usual update after the meeting of state and territory leaders for National Cabinet this morning.
Here are the five key takeaways from the press conference.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings are expanding
National Cabinet has agreed to ditch the 100-person cap on gatherings set out in step three of the “three step” plan that most states and territories are due to move to next month.
Instead, indoor gatherings — including weddings, funerals and places or worship — will now be limited by the four-square-metre rule, which means every person must have four square metres of space.
Outdoor gatherings at places like stadiums that have less than 40,000 seats will be able to take place, but only at 25 per cent capacity.
Music festivals may also be back on the cards, but the new rules stipulate any outdoor event must be seated and ticketed to ensure social distancing.
But do not expect to be able to go to your favourite nightclub any time soon — the Prime Minister made it clear they would be shut for a while longer.
Borders may start reopening soon, except in the West
Also in step three of the roadmap out of coronavirus restrictions is that all interstate travel will resume in July, something of a contentious subject between state and territory leaders.
South Australia has announced its borders will reopen on July 20 and Queensland has flagged it will consider borders when it moves to stage three of its roadmap on July 10.
Mr Morrison said the only jurisdiction he thought would not move to reopen borders next month was Western Australia.
“But there is a commitment from the Premier to continue to look at this issue,” he said.
The Prime Minister said regardless of the WA Premier’s decision, economic forecasts would be made on the assumption all borders begin to open.
“I can assure you when we are framing our fiscal and economic policies over the next 12 months, the assumption the Treasury is making is we are all on step three in July,” Mr Morrison said.
Some areas of the country have eliminated the virus
More good news on the coronavirus cases front — Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said the “suppression” strategy taken by Australia was working and, in some areas, had wiped out the virus.
“But that’s not our goal, because we know we will have return travellers coming, we know quarantine arrangements are not going to be 100 per cent perfectly safe all the time.”
Professor Murphy said we were “well prepared” to handle any pockets of cases or outbreaks as they arose, which was partly why National Cabinet made the decision to tweak step three ahead of schedule.
The focus is on jobs, not culture wars
During his press conference, the Prime Minister was also asked what he thought about some of comedian Chris Lilley’s shows being removed from streaming services.
In a fiery response, the Prime Minister said his focus was on making sure as many people returned to work after the pandemic as possible.
“I’m worried about jobs. I’m worried about 800,000 Australians going on to JobSeeker in the last three months,” Mr Morrison said.
“I’m not interested in what they’re showing on streaming services.
“Let’s focus on where Australians are hurting today, and they are really hurting, and I will not be distracted.”
Now that National Cabinet will replace COAG, a number of subcommittees will be established encompassing rural and regional Australia, skills, infrastructure, transport, population and migration, energy and health — all with a specific focus on progressing “a very rapid jobs agenda”.
A plan is in the works to bring international students back
The Prime Minister also flagged work was underway to develop a plan for international students to return to Australia.
The Federal Government is working closely with the states and territories to develop the plan which will see students return in a “very controlled setting”.
They would only be able to come to Australia on pre-approved plans designed for “particular institutions”.
In response to the announcement, the Australian National University in Canberra said it was looking forward to welcoming students back.
“We’re working in close partnership with the ACT Government and the University of Canberra to develop a pilot to safely return out students,” it said.
Universities Australia also said it welcomed the news, saying pilot programs may begin “as early as next month”.