Australia

NSW joins Victoria in asking people to keep working from home as coronavirus restrictions relax

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged residents to continue working from home. Source: AAP

Gladys Berejiklian says people need to continue to work from home if possible to keep NSW's restricted public transport from becoming overwhelmed.

The NSW Premier says she wants residents to keep working from home where possible to avoid overwhelming the state's public transport network.

Gladys Berejiklian said the network did not buckle under pressure on Monday as students returned to public schools full-time.

Commuters and school students return to public transport at Strathfield Train Station in Sydney on Monday.
Commuters and school students return to public transport at Strathfield Train Station in Sydney on Monday.
AAP

"I think, where possible, people are still working from home, and I anecdotally know that many businesses are considering some staff coming back and some working from home on a rostered basis," she said.

"I am very pleased that the [transport] system hasn’t been overwhelmed to date, that people are listening, making informed decisions, and that is the way we would like it to continue."

Ms Berejiklian said she was "very happy" people weren't rushing onto public transport as they ease their way into more "normal" activities with the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions.

Hundreds of extra security and marshalling officers are out in force across the vast NSW transport network to monitor social distancing and prevent overcrowding.

Under coronavirus prevention measures, Sydney buses can carry just 12 people, train carriages can have 32 passengers and a Manly ferry can transport 245 people.

In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews has voiced a similar message as his state prepares to enter step two of the eased coronavirus restrictions. 

"If you are working from home, you must keep working from home - at least until the end of June," he said on Sunday. 

"We just can't afford to have millions of people moving around our state, taking public transport or using the communal kitchen." 

Queensland is taking a different approach, with Transport Minister Mark Bailey saying it was up to commuters to use "common sense" on public transport and that the government would not put a cap on passenger numbers.

"There is no issue at the moment in terms of social distancing — there is a lot of space there for people," he said.

"[Quotas] is not something that we believe is necessary at this point, and the risk in Queensland is considerably lower than New South Wales where community transmission is much more common.

Kindergarten students work on an activity at Annandale Public School in Sydney on Monday.
Kindergarten students work on an activity at Annandale Public School in Sydney on Monday.
AAP

Ms Berejiklian said her government has taken a "very conservative" approach towards public transport, reserving the power to close train stations should there be overcrowding. 

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has asked parents to drive their children to school if possible, also urging those who cannot work from home to avoid travelling at peak times.

Asked if public transport was safe, Mr Constance said it was "if people stay 1.5 metres away from each other".

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

With AAP, Claudia Farhart.

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