Aus states move to ease restrictions despite new COVID-19 cases

CANBERRA, Jan. 6, 2020 (Xinhua) — Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C), Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack (L) and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (R) attend a press conference at the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, Jan. 6, 2020. The Australian government launched the National Bushfire Recovery Agency which would be funded with an initial two billion Australian dollars (1.38 billion U.S. dollars) on Monday. (Xinhua/Bai Xu/IANS)

Canberra, June 16 (IANS) Australia’s widespread easing of COVID-19 restrictions has remained on track despite a dozen new confirmed cases, with state leaders confident that milder distancing measures will be sufficient.

Crowds of up to 10,000 people will soon be allowed to attend sporting matches in Australian stadiums with a capacity of over 40,000, as patrons also return to cinemas, gyms and music festivals, reports Xinhua news agency.

From July 1, all businesses in the State of New South Wales (NSW), including cinemas, theatres, amusement parks, show grounds and brothels will be allowed to reopen with social distancing measures in place.

While in neighbouring Victoria, limits on the number of people allowed in pubs and restaurants will increase from 20 to 50, in line with regulations already in place in NSW, starting next week.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urged people to remain vigilant and get tested if they felt ill, saying the easing of restrictions was only possible with high testing numbers.

“Please don’t assume (symptoms are) a cold or a flu, please assume it’s COVID,” Berejiklian said.

On the other side of the country, the state of Western Australia (WA) recorded zero new cases despite widespread testing of roughly 18,500 frontline workers.

“It obviously gives us more confidence to be bolder and to be more ambitious, even more so than we currently are,” WA Premier Roger Cook said.

“We’ve eased restrictions ahead of all the other states (and) to a greater extent.”

Queensland was in a similar position to WA, recording no new cases, and officials said that they will resist pressure from elsewhere in the country to reopen their domestic border.

“It is very clear where the epicentre of coronavirus is and that is not Queensland,” State Treasurer Cameron Dick said.

The state of South Australia lifted border restrictions for some parts of the country, with people travelling from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Tasmania to be allowed in as of midnight on Tuesday.

Restrictions on those travelling from elsewhere to SA were scheduled to be removed from July 20.

Australia has so far reported 7,333 COVID-19 cases, with 102 deaths.

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