'Australians have earned an early mark': Decision on lifting coronavirus restrictions brought forward

Australia's prime minister and state and territory leaders will next week consider lifting national COVID-19 restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House. Source: AAP

The national cabinet will decide whether to relax coronavirus restrictions sooner than previously planned, bringing forward the discussion to next Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement in Canberra following the national cabinet meeting on Friday.

"Australians deserve an early mark for the work that they've done," Mr Morrison told reporters. "We can't keep Australia under the doona. We need to be able to move ahead."

The national cabinet, which includes state and territory leaders, will meet twice next week to work through the detail of how restrictions would be rolled back. 

Morrison: 'Australians deserve an early mark

Mr Morrison touted Australia's success in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting that only approximately 1,000 active cases remain across the country.

He also said more than 3.5 million people have downloaded the CovidSafe app, but that "millions more" needed to in order for Australia to return to normality.

"It's over to you Australia," he said. 

The number of new confirmed cases across Australia have been "consistently" below 20 a day, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said, with the total number of confirmed cases in Australia sitting at 6,765.

Mr Morrison also announced an extra one-off payment of $205 million for the aged care sector, which has been plagued by outbreaks in recent weeks.

The additional payment brings the amount of federal government financial support for the sector to $850 million, he said. 

Major aged care providers, including Anglicare and BaptistCare, have also agreed to a sector-wide code, which sets out rules around social distancing and visitation. 

Aged care minister Richard Colbeck said 23 residential aged care homes had so far suffered outbreaks, including an Anglicare facility in Western Sydney, where a 13th resident died on Friday.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Published 1 May 2020 at 2:15pm, updated 1 May 2020 at 2:44pm
By Maani Truu