Barr steadfast on easing restrictions after NSW moves ahead of National Cabinet

Dominic Giannini 29 April 2020 34
Andrew Barr

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says he hopes to make an announcement on easing lockdown restrictions after this Friday’s National Cabinet meeting. Photo: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

Three states are relaxing their physical distancing measures this week but Chief Minister Andrew Barr says no announcements will be made regarding lockdown restrictions in the ACT until National Cabinet meets on Friday (1 May).

Unlocking state and territory economies was not a race, Mr Barr told reporters on Tuesday morning (28 April), stressing that many states peeling back physical distancing requirements were repealing measures that were never in place in the ACT.

Mr Barr’s retort came after neighbouring NSW said two adults would be allowed to visit another home from Friday, prompting questions over whether the ACT would also loosen restrictions.

“It is important to note that jurisdictions that have moved already are really just releasing restrictions that were never put in place in the ACT, so a lot of them are just getting to the point that we have always been at,” Mr Barr said.

“No such restriction has ever been in place in the ACT. We never applied one, so NSW is catching up with us in that regard if you want to view this as a football competition or a race, but it is not.

“This is about public health and safety and cementing the gains we have made.”

The Chief Minister and ACT Health have consistently warned Canberrans against complacency over our decreasing COVID-19 figures after the territory’s most recent update reduced the number of active cases to two – a 95 per cent recovery rate.

“There is no prize for being the first to then have an outbreak and a cluster in the school system. That would, frankly, be devastating,” Mr Barr said.

“All it takes is one person to get us back to square one and undo everything that 425,000 people have been working to achieve over the last month, that is how fragile the situation is.

“One wedding in NSW – 35 cases. One bloody cruise ship and you can see the results of that. We still have to be cautious and we still have to be careful.”

If the strict imposition of the World Health Organisation’s criteria of two complete infection cycles (28 days) without a new case were the sole criterion for easing COVID-19 measures, no baseline lockdown measures would be removed for another month, Mr Barr said.

However, this would not be the case.

“If we apply that very strict standard then we are talking about the end of May where you would get to a position where you would have a considerable level of confidence about this,” he said.

“We are likely to move ahead of that, [but] we are taking this carefully in a considered way as we gradually release restrictions.”

National Cabinet will meet on Friday to discuss the progress being made on the four touted requirements before lockdown measures could be eased.

The four requirements include better contact tracing capabilities, scaling up of the healthcare system, a large increase in testing, and take up of the Government’s new coronavirus tracing app.

The app would need to be downloaded and installed by around 40 to 50 per cent of Australians for it to be effective in tracing and shutting down any local transmission of the virus, according to Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy.

While some Australians are concerned about their privacy and the security of their data, Mr Barr said that although he was initially skeptical, all of his security concerns have been addressed by the National Cabinet and he has since downloaded the app.

Further easement of current national baseline restrictions and an appropriate timeline over which they can occur will be on the agenda this Friday. In the meantime, Mr Barr says he will continue to listen to expert advice and not make any decisions on a whim because of any announcements other states make.

“People can look forward to, providing we stay on the current trajectory, the relaxation of some of the restrictions that are in place at the national baseline level,” he said.

“By the end of this week, I hope to be in a position to make further announcements in relation to the restrictions that are in place.”


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34 Responses to Barr steadfast on easing restrictions after NSW moves ahead of National Cabinet
Anne Masters Anne Masters 10:13 pm 03 May 20

Yes, happy to wait till Friday. I’m staying at home. It’s about saving lives.

Bethany Williams Bethany Williams 7:37 pm 01 May 20

The second wave of the Spanish flu was much deadlier than the first wave. I’m proud of the ACT Government’s handling of the restrictions. They are literally saving lives. We shouldn’t be to too much of a hurry to open back up.

Meredith Baker Meredith Baker 9:15 pm 30 Apr 20

It's time to open up schools. The costs of missing out on learning are very high and the risks to vulnerable teachers can be mitigated (as explained by the deputy chief medical officer on Q+A).

Acton Acton 11:16 am 30 Apr 20

With the infection curve under control, it’s time to reopen schools in Canberra so that learning can recommence. For parents, effectively working from home and effectively supervising their children’s remote schooling is impossible. Either productivity or education, and probably both, has to give. Children need established routines and face-to-face instruction to minimise distractions and maximise learning. Stop disadvantaging our kids. Reopen our schools.

rsm1105 rsm1105 10:06 am 30 Apr 20

#believethescience ???

rsm1105 rsm1105 10:05 am 30 Apr 20

“The World Health Organization lauded Sweden as a “model” for battling the coronavirus as countries lift lockdowns — after the nation controversially refused restrictions.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, said Wednesday there are “lessons to be learned” from the Scandinavian nation, which has largely relied on citizens to self-regulate.”

Per New York Post

Christopher Cuba Rabanal Christopher Cuba Rabanal 8:34 am 30 Apr 20

Chill there Mighty Mouse 🐭

Let’s get it right before we open up.

Hamish Lardi Hamish Lardi 10:13 pm 29 Apr 20

Stephen Matthews we barely had a first wave. We might only have 106 people immune to the virus. So if we get a second wave it will of course effect more people. Will we be able to wait it out two years for a potential vaccine noting we never got one for SARS or even Aids in 40 years. Australia can suppress the epidemic though will just have to close its boarders until the virus burns itself out around the rest of the world.

Chez Lee Chez Lee 8:07 pm 29 Apr 20

It only took 1 case thousands of kilometres overseas to start a pandemic. But having several cases will be ok will it?

Carl Ostermann Carl Ostermann 8:01 pm 29 Apr 20

You need to have no cases before you open the flood gates and let the people out to party

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:39 pm 29 Apr 20

As far as I am aware, there hasn’t been a need for heavy-handed policing of restrictions in Canberra, and that has been a very positive aspect of the way that the Canberra community and government have dealt with the virus thus far.

As long as the ACT continues to move broadly in line with surrounding NSW on the major decisions, particularly for business re-opening rules, we should be OK.

Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 7:25 pm 29 Apr 20

I blame the tram

rsm1105 rsm1105 2:37 pm 29 Apr 20

“No rush” said exactly no one facing financial ruin.

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 12:25 pm 29 Apr 20

For once Barr makes sense!

grim123 grim123 11:29 am 29 Apr 20

Would rather keep the territory shut over 2 cases of covid than listen to the advice of the Chief Medical Officer…

Debbie Hope Debbie Hope 11:25 am 29 Apr 20

Too soon

Narelle Ford Narelle Ford 11:14 am 29 Apr 20

There’s no rush. There will be more than one wave and that’s not just me talking.

Tara Murray Tara Murray 11:06 am 29 Apr 20

Sooner or later we are gonna have to take the risk especially when theres so little active cases at the moment

Michael Stachow Michael Stachow 11:02 am 29 Apr 20

Objectively look at the numbers: we have 2 cases currently. If we don’t start easing lockdowns now, what are we waiting for?

    Tim Cole Tim Cole 11:05 am 29 Apr 20

    The second wave?

    Kyle Roberts Kyle Roberts 11:07 am 29 Apr 20

    Be sure to actually read the full article before commenting.

    Grant Tobias Grant Tobias 11:15 am 29 Apr 20

    Sneaky 5G roll out

    James Harber James Harber 11:26 am 29 Apr 20

    Michael Stachow for 14 days after the last case disappears for more certainty.

    Do you understand how this works?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:12 pm 29 Apr 20

    James Harber I suspect many don't understand by their comments.

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 12:19 pm 29 Apr 20

    Well for a start we will have restrictions of some kind for the rest of the year. Restaurants when they are allowed to open for dine in, will probably still have restrictions (although in Canberra many restaurants have done better since lockdown, because delivery has been far more popular than normal). the issue is take 14 days for this virus to kick in. So the question is if we relax restrictions now, at what point do they come back? ie 10 infections in a week? Do we want to be constantly changing restrictions? Also winter is coming and the reason viruses spread so much better in Winter is the lower humidity and the fact we spend more time closer to other people indoors, which is exactly how this virus spreads. So all through winter we really need to have restrictions of some kind in place to ensure we don't get a second outbreak. It only takes one person to infect half a dozen to start another outbreak. So things like maintaining a small social circle are critical for tracking and tracing which is what we did in the ACT (also that app the gov has developed is meant to do tracking and tracing as well). In the ACT we got to people before they were too contagious and spread it.

    Tania Carnegie Tania Carnegie 1:41 pm 29 Apr 20

    Michael Stachow once upon a time there were 2 cases in Wuhan....

    Therein lies the problem. ACT has done an awesome job to get down to 2 confirmed cases that are self isolating. It doesn’t take much to open Pandora’s box though - it’s prudent to be cautious at the moment.

    Paul Leins Paul Leins 5:32 pm 29 Apr 20

    We are contained within NSW. There is no logic at having vastly different restrictions

    Jill Lyall Jill Lyall 6:05 pm 29 Apr 20

    Michael Stachow I think we started with one case and looked what happened. We had to lock down as numbers started to climb. Do you want to do it all again?

    Michael Stachow Michael Stachow 6:12 pm 29 Apr 20

    Jill Lyall yes Jill clearly that is my intention. You’ve got me.

    Krystle Anne Krystle Anne 4:28 am 30 Apr 20

    Michael Stachow 2 cases that we know of.

rsm1105 rsm1105 10:31 am 29 Apr 20

What if politicians/media told us the truth about COVID? What if they acknowledged data showing those with healthy immune systems have no reason to feel particularly threatened by the virus? There is no risk-free existence.

What is the #believethe science reason for people with healthy immune systems to sit at home?

    JS9 JS9 11:27 am 29 Apr 20

    This isn’t a virus about ‘you’ in many, many cases. It is a virus about ‘we’ as a community. Just because it may not hurt you, doesn’t mean you couldn’t be the one that passes it on to someone else that it could hurt or kill.

    I was hoping this whole crisis would have a silver lining of making the world a little bit less about ‘me me me’ and more about ‘ we are in this together’. But one has to wonder whether that will happen at all.

    JC JC 5:22 pm 29 Apr 20

    Well said.

    And on top of that just because someone has a healthy immune system doesn’t mean your body knows how to react and fight the virus fast enough meaning even with healthy immune system THIS virus may well knock you for six.

    Kali Kali 9:55 am 30 Apr 20

    Plenty of “young” people with no known immunity problems have died in Spain and Italy due to COVID-19. We need to learn from other countries mistakes and exercise caution….we only have one chance to get it right first time.

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