Australians waiting for elective surgeries will soon be back in hospitals as part of a monumental step in the nation’s fight against the coronavirus.
Federal and state leaders have agreed to lift restrictions on category two and some category three procedures from April 27.
It includes IVF, dental work, screening programs, all child surgeries, joint replacements, eye procedures, endoscopies and colonoscopies.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it’s an important step on Australia’s path back to a post-virus world.
“There is a road back,” he said.
The decision will be reviewed on May 11 and was made possible because of ample supply of personal protective equipment as well as a slowdown of new cases.
Supermarkets are also resuming their home delivery services in another sign that things are slowly returning to normal.
However, RBA government Philip Lowe has warned nearly 850,000 sacked Australian workers are likely to remain unemployed for years after the pandemic subsides.
The Reserve Bank predicts Australia’s economy will contract by 10 per cent by the middle of the year before a long, slow recovery from the coronavirus crisis.
There have been 71 coronavirus deaths across the nation.
Nearly 4700 people have recovered out of more than 6600 cases detected.
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the growth rate has been at less than one per cent for nine consecutive days.
“This is a collective national achievement but every Australian has been contributing and I want to say thank you for what people have done. You have made this happen,” he said.
Students in some states will be heading back to classrooms in another step towards the gradual return to normal life.
NSW students will return one day a week from May 11, while South Australian schools will be back to normal from Monday.
West Australian authorities are strongly urging year 11 and 12 students to head back to campus.
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison says a tracing app will be released soon to beef up efforts to track down the contacts of people with the virus.
The prime minister says the Commonwealth won’t have access to the data, but it will be released by individuals to state-based virus tracers.
The voluntary app uses Bluetooth connections to track down people who have come in contact with others carrying the deadly disease.
The Morrison government is resisting pressure to save Virgin Australia from collapse as the company enters voluntary administration.
But Nationals senator Matt Canavan has called for government intervention to save the troubled airline, putting him at odds with coalition leaders.