- The National Cabinet has agreed that all Australian states will reopen by Christmas with the exception of Western Australia.
- Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the news on Friday as he acknowledged that Queensland and New South Wales had come to an agreement.
- Meanwhile, Australia’s chief scientist Alan Finkel concluded his review into Australia’s contact tracing system announcing that some “additional metrics” will be required to ensure future cases are identified quickly.
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Australians should be able to move freely between nearly every state by Christmas, the Morrison Government has announced.
After convening the National Cabinet, the Prime Minister said every state had agreed to the terms with one major exception.
“The plan I outlined at our last meeting and we spoke about has now been agreed with the one exception of Western Australia, which I have already flagged,” Scott Morrison said.
It means that even Queensland, which has been reluctant to open up to New South Wales will do so in the coming weeks.
“I have an agreement with both of them that we’ll be open by Christmas. That’s what the National Cabinet has brought them to,” Morrison said.
Exactly when each state will open is yet to be announced, but South Australia has said it will reopen to Victorians from December 1. Queensland meanwhile will begin relaxing state restrictions for residents from November 17.
To be able to maintain that openness, Morrison outlined that the priority was now to control further outbreaks between states.
“There are things that need to happen, and importantly, the work of [chief scientist Alan] Finkel’s national contact tracing review, which identifies additional metrics that are needed to ensure we are always aware that we are staying on track, and have the protections in place to keep Australia open,” Morrison said.
The review has now been handed in, with Finkel saying that Australians can have confidence that new cases will be managed but that everyone needs to remain vigilant.
“Critically important is the preventative measures, which start from the responsibility of the individual — through hygiene practices and staying home if unwell, through physical distancing and other measures,” Finkle said.
He stressed the ongoing importance of “limiting appropriately access to high-risk facilities, such as aged care facilities” where the coronavirus can strike vulnerable members of the community.
Morrison also confirmed that coming into the end of the year international students would lose priority to returning Australians eager to come home.