Greater freedom as early as May to revive small business
The virus infection curve in NSW is running so flat that authorities are considering relaxing restrictions as soon as May 1 in a bid to revive small business.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier John Barilaro and Treasurer Dominic Perrottet are in lock-step on the need to investigate a loosening of some measures in a bid to restart the economy.
This could include relaxing restrictions on restaurants and cafes while still maintaining healthy social distancing.
Some senior minister also believe gym restrictions should be slightly rolled back and other possibilities include allowing small worship groups at church while still maintaining restrictions on large services.
Despite Ms Berejiklian stating publicly yesterday that "social distancing is a way of life for us" until a vaccine is found, it can be revealed the Premier believes there may be a way to fire up the economy with some relaxation of rules while Australians continue practising physical distancing.
The idea is that slight loosening of restrictions could be undertaken in stages and reviewed on a monthly basis.
The plan has not been finalised and may still shift, with the Government wanting to monitor further updates on the virus's spread amid increasing concerns about wanting to avoid a long-term economic depression.
But The Daily Telegraph has confirmed Ms Berejiklian is now leaning more towards loosening restrictions rather than tightening them as the next step undertaken by the Government.
The Government is also open to a month-by-month approach to managing the changes - meaning that even if some things are relaxed in May there is no guarantee they won't be tightened again if the virus spread becomes concerning in winter months.
While last month authorities in NSW believed the state risked charting a path to the health crises seen in places like Italy and parts of America, the State Government now feels it has bought some time and can begin to consider what an exit strategy looks like.
It comes amid concerns that the spread of the disease risks even being too slow with senior NSW ministers worried that the slower the spread the worse the economic outcome.
Chief Health Officer Brendan Murphy yesterday said that completely stopping transmission through increased lockdowns was "one option", but the "problem is then you don't have any immunity in the population and you need to aggressively control your borders for a very long time".
Prime Minister Scott Morrison added that national cabinet needed to consider the ability to run the country under such a scenario, noting "the economic lifeline that has been provided through the many things done at federal and state level have a finite life".
"So if those scenarios were to come forward and it would involve a duration that went beyond all of the Government's capacity to support it that would render such an option not workable," Mr Morrison said.
Originally published as Greater freedom as early as May to revive small business