'Safe, cautious' approach to lifting curbs
Much of Australia is entering a new phase where COVID-19 restrictions are easing further, but authorities say they'll be watching carefully to ensure the country's success in containing the pandemic remains on track.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth says the lifting of restrictions is a balancing act between the socio-economic benefit from their removal and the public health risk.
"We're taking a deliberately safe and cautious approach," Professor Coatsworth told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.
"Most importantly we're taking the time to gather the data over the coming weeks to determine whether it's safe to move to the next round of lifting restrictions."
Coronavirus cases remain low by international standards at some 7180 nationwide with 6614 recovering. Only three people are in intensive care at the moment, while the death toll remains at 103.
The more flexible restrictions - which differ across the states - will mean more movement in public places, including pubs, cafes, and restaurants. But authorities have renewed their call for safe hygiene and social distancing measures to remain.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Sunday brought forward easing of some COVID-19 restrictions by almost two weeks after again not recording any new cases.
From midday on Monday, Queenslanders will be able to travel statewide, while pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafes will be allowed to seat up to 20 people.
But despite criticism for keeping the state borders closed for so long, Premier Annastacia Palaczczuk won't have a bar of opening them anytime soon.
"Let me make it very clear, the border will remain closed for the month of June," she told reporters in Brisbane on Sunday.
Federal shadow treasurer and Queenslander Jim Chalmers concedes people do want the border and associated businesses like tourism reopened.
"It's important we get it open when it's appropriate and responsible to do that. Premier Palaszczuk has said she'll keep it under review and stay flexible about it, and I think that's important and warranted," Dr Chalmers told Sky News' Sunday Agenda program.
Neighbouring NSW reported three new infections, all linked to travellers in hotel quarantine.
NSW pubs, beauty salons and museums reopen on Monday and holiday travel inside state boundaries will also be permitted.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the easing of restrictions was perhaps "the most difficult decision our government has taken".
"It doesn't take away with how dangerous the virus is, how contagious it is and how volatile the situation is," Ms Berejiklian told reporters on Sunday.
Victoria reported six new COVID-19 cases, but two previous cases were removed from the overall tally due to the reclassifications of earlier results.
However, more than a dozen cases of coronavirus are now linked to a suburb in Melbourne's northwest.
"We obviously have some concerns about what might be happening in the Keilor Downs area, it's possible there might be community transmission in that area that hasn't been established to date," Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters in Melbourne.
A three-year-old child is one of three new cases in Western Australia, but all were in quarantine after returning from overseas, while one of the cases from the Al Kuwait livestock ship has been hospitalised.
No new cases were reported in South Australia, and pubs will again on Monday.
"People are desperate to socialise with their mates, have a beer from the tap and a schnitzel on a plate and not from a takeaway container," Australian Hotels Association president and local publican David Basheer said.
"When the premier announced the new lifting of restrictions, the phone rang off the hook."
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