Australia’s death toll stood at 97 on Thursday, with around 6,878 recorded coronavirus infections.
More than 3.6 million cases of the virus have been confirmed worldwide, and more than 256,000 people have died from it.
Here’s what is happening with coronavirus in Australia today:
1. NSW Says No To Loosening Group Gathering Restrictions
The coronavirus ban on group gatherings in NSW will not be lifted in time for Mother’s Day, Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed on Thursday.
There was speculation state governments might allow up to 10 people to meet at a household after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s National Cabinet meeting on Friday.
It is believed Friday’s meeting will discuss the next steps in easing COVID-19 restrictions, potentially putting dinner parties, Mother’s Day brunches and other group gatherings in the diary for this weekend.
“I want to manage expectations and say if National Cabinet does suggest easing of restrictions, they won’t be able to be made in time for Mother’s Day,” Berejiklian told reporters on Thursday.
“I doubt that NSW will be in a position to implement anything before Mother’s Day. I just wanted to make that clear.”
In NSW, two adults and their children can visit another household. There is no limit on how far people may travel to visit loved ones.
“Of course that can happen multiple times a day as long as everybody is careful,” Berejiklian added.
“Perhaps the greatest gift to all mothers will be schools going back next week.
“It will be a very disappointing Mother’s Day for people in NSW. It is unlikely that state will be able to implement any loosening of restrictions by Sunday.”
NSW has tested a record 10,900 people in the last 24 hours with just three new confirmed cases of COVID-19.
2. QLD Households Allowed 5 Visitors
Annastacia Palaszczuk confirmed on Thursday households in Queensland can now have up to five visitors.
“We’ve only had two additional cases overnight,” Palaszczuk said.
“Because Queensland has been doing such a great job, from Sunday, we will be allowing up to five members to visit a household right across Queensland.
“It must be from the same household.”
There are now only 50 active coronavirus cases in QLD.
3. Australia Targets COVID-19 Safe Economy By July But We ‘Should’t Get Hopes Up’ For An Early Mark On Restrictions
Australia will have a COVID-19 safe economy up and running by July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, as his government seeks to get one million unemployed people working again.
It is not clear how many businesses this would see returning to full operations, though it’s been reported there are plans for a three-stage reopening.
Cafes, restaurants and retail are expected to be among the first to be allowed to reopen, with strict social distancing rules. Pubs, where social distancing is harder, would probably be amongst the last to fully reopen.
Australia has had less than 7,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus. Fewer than 1,000 people are still sick with COVID-19.
Australia is on Friday expected to announce a loosening of social distancing restrictions with curbs on most businesses removed by July.
“We need people back at work. We need the businesses open again,” Morrison told Sydney’s 2GB Radio.
“We can open up in what I’m calling a COVID Safe Australia.”
Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone has warned state and territory leaders against opening up Australia too early.
“People should not get their hopes up too high at this stage, because rushing to get things back to normal, without caution and safeguards, risks a huge setback for everyone,” Bartone said.
With additional reporting from Reuters.