Australia's largest states to further ease COVID-19 curbs

Australia's largest states to further ease COVID-19 curbs

Regional travel re-opens as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are eased in the state
Regional travel re-opens as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are eased in the state of New South Wales. (Photo: Reuters)

SYDNEY: Australia's two largest states will further ease COVID-19 restrictions at libraries, community centres and nightclubs, officials said on Sunday (Jun 14), despite recording increases in new infections.

New South Wales (NSW), the most populous state, said that from Jul 1, a 50-person limit on indoor venues such as restaurants and churches would be scrapped, so long as the venues observed a one person per 4 sq m rule.

Nightclubs and music festivals would also be allowed to operate from August if new cases remain low, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. 

READ: Australia's largest state reports first local COVID-19 case in weeks

The state on Saturday reported the first locally transmitted COVID-19 case in weeks, and state officials on Sunday said there had been nine new infections since late Friday.

In neighboring Victoria, where pubs and other venues are currently limited to 20 people, indoor businesses will be allowed to have up to 50 seated patrons from Jun 22, said state premier Daniel Andrews.

All sports for children would resume, he said. Indoor sports centres and physical recreation spaces like gyms will be allowed to host 20 people, with caps of up to 10 adults per group, he added.

READ: Australia eliminates COVID-19 in many areas, to ease curbs

Strict lockdown restrictions and the closure of state and national borders have allowed Australia to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with many parts of the country claiming to have eliminated the disease.

With 102 deaths, much lower than most other developed nations, the federal government has stepped up pressure on state and territory leaders to reopen internal borders, a step viewed as key to reviving the country's economy.

"We would love to open everything tomorrow. We can't do that. Because if we did we would be almost making it certain that we would have a second wave," Andrews told reporters in Melbourne.

"They are happening in many countries around the world and it's just not my practice to follow models that are proven by others not to work."

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Source: Reuters/mi