Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese during Question Time in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage A reduced number of politicians in the House of Representatives during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage
Prime Minister Scott Morrison with Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese during Question Time in the House of Representatives in Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage A reduced number of politicians in the House of Representatives during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra. Picture Gary Ramage

Revealed: How the economy will be reopened

EXCLUSIVE

South Australia is shaping as the test ground for a partial reopening of Australia's economy, with the Festival State's coronavirus infection and death rates on track to meet benchmarks monitored by health experts advising National Cabinet.

In a guide to what could happen in NSW, a reopening in SA could begin with restaurants although social distancing would still apply.

Some businesses would also resume, but workers over 60 would be encouraged to stay home.

Pubs and clubs would likely stay shut and visits to aged care homes remain prohibited.

If in four to eight weeks there had not been a significant increase in cases then the 1.5m spacing requirement could be eased.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has hinted at what COVID-19 success looks like.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has hinted at what COVID-19 success looks like.

Gatherings of up to 50 people could also be permitted.

This level of restriction would likely hold for eight to 16 weeks. Provided there wasn't a big jump in infections during that time, all gatherings could be allowed and bars could reopen.

Success in SA would give large states with more cases - such as NSW - greater confidence about being able to begin lifting restrictions without causing a spike in infections.

 

The Daily Telegraph understands a key measure that would have to be satisfied before an initial easing could be considered is a two-week-long decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases.

SA's daily new infection rate has dropped from 38 on March 26 1 to just five yesterday and a total of nine over the three days before that.

 

 

It is not for want of testing - SA has the highest per capita screening rate in the nation.

A number of other criteria would have to be met, such as a doubling in intensive care unit (ICU) beds and an ability to screen large numbers away from hospitals.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday confirmed the country was on course to triple ICU capacity.

There would also need to be designated facilities to treat infected people who aren't sick enough to be in an ICU but shouldn't be at home either.

Public health protections would have to be in place as well, such as having sanitiser available in buildings and workplaces.

Success in contact-tracing would also need to be high, and the number of people leaving hospital after recovering from the virus would need to be greater than new admissions.

 

 

Earlier this week Health Minister Greg Hunt said "better contact tracing" and "fewer hospitalisations" would show the capacity had been created to "really get on top of" COVID-19.

"And that's the best way through the virus," Mr Hunt told Sky News.

Health experts advising the government are of the view that it would be necessary for the "medically vulnerable" to remain in isolation during the partial reopening. This includes people with heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

As a guard against a jump in infections during the reopening, there would need to be enough protective gear for health care workers even if case numbers doubled.

Originally published as Revealed: How the economy will be reopened


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