Briefing the media after today’s National Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed that we were much further ahead in the suppression of COVID-19 then we anticipated we would be at this stage, but that it was still essential to synchronise our health response to our economic response.
There will be no softening of restrictions for at least the next four weeks – with the States and Territories using this time to bolster testing, tracing and local response capability on the ground. We already have one of the highest testing rates in the world, but it needs to be better if we are to ease restrictions to ensure we can quickly identify and shut down any future outbreaks.
The National Cabinet has an eye to the future and while we expect the unemployment figures to rise, Federal, State and Territory governments are already looking at “the road out”. This will include a policy framework to provide support and freedom for businesses to grow on the other side of the pandemic. A return to business as usual is not on the cards and we can expect to hear more from policy makers around this issue over the coming months.
On the agenda for the National Cabinet was the subject of schools and schooling. States and Territories are ultimately responsible for the management and policy around education, however a set of seven principles was agreed to by the National Cabinet which looks at social distancing and the safety of the teachers and staff. Some States have already provided an update on when they anticipate schools to commence operating “as normal” with Victorian schools opting to not re-open for Term 2, while New South Wales anticipates children to return to school from Week 3 of Term 2.
Finally, the Prime Minister has said that Parliament will reconvene on a trial basis in May so they continue to discuss and work on national matters beyond COVID-19.
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