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Staged reopening for Australian cafés as restrictions eased

Australian cafés are set to be allowed to reopen under the first stage of eased coronavirus restrictions. Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement in a press conference on 8 May, while unveiling the National Cabinet’s three-step plan to achieve a “COVID-19 safe economy and society”.

“[Step one] will see… retail and small cafés and restaurants reopening,” Morrison said.

“We have put Australia in a position to go forward. We have strengthened our health system and put the protections in place.”

State governments will move through these steps at their own pace, adjusting for the unique local circumstances and communicating this to their citizens. Morrison said the National Cabinet aims for this plan to be complete by July.

“There should be no expectations of step one starting on day one, unless [the state or territory government] is already there,” Morrison said.

“In this plan, we walk before we run. We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, but also know if we wish to reclaim the ground that we have lost, we cannot be too timid.”

Morrison said the Treasury estimates 850,000 jobs will be restored in the months ahead.

Step one will allow gatherings of up to 10 people in public spaces, with a one-person-per-four-square-metre distancing rule in small cafés and restaurants.

“We know that means many cafés and restaurants won’t be able to open, but many that are doing take away may well want to put up enough distant tables to start just gently serving 10 people at a time,” said Chief Medical Officer of Australia, Brendan Murphy

In addition, five visitors will be allowed at a person’s home. It will also allow libraries, community centres, playgrounds, and boot camps to reopen, and local and regional travel to commence.

Step two will allow for gathering of up to 20 people and other types of venues reopening.

Step three will allow gatherings of up to 100 people. Bars and night clubs without seated dining will likely be included in this step.

“This will become clearer as we move through the first two steps, so there will be more work to do on step three,” Morrison said.

Implementation of steps will be determined by medical evidence suggesting further easing would not present an undue risk, that widespread testing is adequately identifying community transmission, public health actions tracing and trapping local outbreaks.

The Australian Capital Territory entered step one from midnight that night, however, café and restaurant reopenings will not take place immediately.

South Australia will allow outdoor dining for cafés and restaurants from 11 May.

Queensland will move into step one on 16 May. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk shared Queensland’s roadmap to easing restrictions on Twitter. Click HERE.

Western Australia and Tasmania will ease restrictions on 18 May.

New South Wales will allow cafés and restaurants to resume sit-in service for up to 20 patrons from 15 May.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced that no changes to cafés will be implemented for three weeks from 11 May. He said in a press conference a limit of 10 patrons was not viable, following discussions with industry members. Andrews hopes to allow cafés to open table service with more than 10 patrons if the spread of the virus is contained in June.

For more information, visit www.australia.gov.au

This article was first published by Bean Scene magazine here.