Canberrans will be able to gather in larger groups and will be allowed out for more reasons as Chief Minister Andrew Barr announced that easing of some social distancing measures will come into effect from midnight Friday (8 May).
Indoor gatherings have been increased from two people to 10, providing everyone maintains good hygiene and remains 1.5 metres apart where possible.
Weddings, auctions and open houses will now be allowed to have 10 people with the same caveats in place, while funerals will have special provisions to allow 20 people to congregate indoors or 30 people outdoors, excluding those conducting the service.
Private worship can also go ahead with up to 10 people, excluding the celebrants.
Canberrans can also head to the park to kick the footy over the weekend and participate in boot camps, but contact sports are still off the table and sharing equipment is not allowed.
ACT Government playgrounds remain closed, however, those managed by the National Capital Authority will be open this weekend.
Until there is a vaccine, there will be a higher level of risk management in place, Mr Barr said, flagging that large crowds still need to be avoided and good hygiene should be practiced.
“The easing of restrictions is not a license for people from multiple households to have a party,” he said, flagging that the territory was taking a cautious and staged approach.
“The absolute worst thing we can do is move too quickly and not be able to respond immediately to any outbreak.”
The announcements came after today’s National Cabinet meeting, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a three-stage road map the Government would be using to open up the economy and loosen restrictions.
Mr Morrison flagged that it was still up to the states and territories to decide which restrictions they removed and how quickly they reopened businesses in their jurisdictions, as each is in a different position.
The Prime Minister said he expects the economy to be unlocked by July, but that any changes to Australia’s border restrictions are still a long way away.
Gatherings of up to 10 people and five people in the home will be allowed in Stage One, while children will be back in classrooms and playgrounds.
He also noted the “easing of restrictions for funerals with up to 30 attendees, outdoors, and 10 at weddings”.
“Golfers back on the green. Lap swimmers back in the pool. Boot camps back in the parks. Retail and small cafes and restaurants reopening. Interstate recreational travel starting again.”
When asked why small cafes, businesses and playgrounds would not be reopening this weekend, Mr Barr told reporters that he would not read out a “laundry list” of items at 2 pm on a Friday and expect businesses to open the next day.
Discussions on opening up small businesses are continuing, and discussions will continue next week, he said.
Larger gatherings of 20 people will then be allowed in Stage Two, including at cinemas, galleries and more retail shops.
Organised community sport will also be back on the agenda.
Stage Three would then let up to 100 people gather together, Mr Morrison said, but the measures for the second and third steps will become clearer as we continue to weather the pandemic.
“So there will be more work to do on Stage Three. But most workers, by then, will be back in the workplace. Interstate travel will likely resume. Pubs and clubs with some restrictions will be open, and also possibly gaming venues,” the Prime Minister said.
By Stage Three, most of the economy will be reopened and the majority of people will be back at work. Treasury is expecting 850,000 jobs to be restored in the coming months.
Measures will be reviewed every three weeks.
“There will be challenges, there will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be setbacks,” Mr Morrison said.
“Not everything will go to plan. There will be inconsistencies. States will and must move at their own pace, and will cut and paste out of this plan to suit their local circumstances.
“There will undoubtedly be some human error. No-one is perfect, [but] everyone is doing their best.”