Coronavirus restrictions will dominate a crucial meeting of federal and state leaders as Australia maps the road out of the pandemic.
National cabinet will meet on Friday morning to discuss easing restrictions in response to the squashing of infection rates across the country.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will chair the meeting, but states get the final say on what measures might be eased.
Mr Morrison is more eager than premiers and chief ministers for businesses to get going again.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warned the road back to normality would be long.
“There are tough months to come,” Mr Dutton told Nine on Thursday.
He said there would still be outbreaks, which meant it would be important to slowly ease Australia back to normal.
Victoria is retaining the most hardline approach, while NSW has signalled it will also move cautiously, with outbreaks in those two states still active.
Queensland is allowing groups of five to visit other houses from Mother’s Day, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk framing it as a reward for achieving good infection results.
The NT, WA and SA are among the least restrictive jurisdictions, while Tasmania and the ACT are yet to wind rules back significantly.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said state governments would make decisions about relaxing restrictions based on their circumstances.
“What we hope comes out of national cabinet, and what I expect, is a clear roadmap out, with clear stages,” he said.
The devastating economic impact of coronavirus is being felt across the country, with unemployment soaring as major sectors bear the brunt of the shutdown.
National Australia Bank believes employment has reached 11 per cent based on one million people having unemployment claims processed.
But there are also fears of a second infection wave when restrictions are lifted.
Health officials are confident Australia is well placed to handle further outbreaks, along with a strong testing and tracing regime to counter the fresh spread.
Leaders are facing the delicate balance between saving livelihoods and protecting lives.
Mr Dutton said state and federal leaders were trying to strike the right settings.
“Ultimately, we want to take the advice of the medical officers as well as frankly of the Reserve Bank governor, the secretary of Treasury and others,” he told 2GB radio.
“Having no cases but people literally watching their lives collapse around them if they’ve got a small business, for example – that is not the outcome we want.”
There have been 97 deaths from coronavirus in Australia, while more than 6000 of the 6897 people infected have recovered.
An outbreak at a Melbourne abattoir has been linked to 62 cases but no deaths, while a cluster at a Sydney nursing home has claimed 16 lives.
People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia.
If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. The federal government’s coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone’s app store.
SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.