Restaurant News

Prime Minister announces three-step plan to ease restrictions, including the reopening of restaurants and cafés

The implementation of these stages will be at the discretion of state and territory governments.

By Yvonne C Lam
The dining room at Sydney café Mecca Coffee in Alexandria.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today announced a three-step plan to gradually restore the economy and lift the nation's social-distancing restrictions, including the reopening of restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs, and allowing gatherings of up to 100 people.
In a press conference today, the Prime Minister said the first stage of the plan would see the reopening of businesses including restaurants and cafés, as well as gatherings of up to 10 people outside of the home.
Step two will increase the size of permissible gatherings to 20 people, as well as the opening of cinemas and art galleries.
By step three, pubs and clubs will reopen with some operating restrictions in place, though detail about these restrictions will be announced at a later date. Gatherings of up to 100 people will be allowed, and interstate travel will likely resume.
COVID-safe practices including physical distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene should be maintained throughout these stages.
The goal is to reopen the economy by July, with the National Cabinet to review the changes every three weeks. However, the decision of when to implement each stage will be made by the individual states and territories.
"They'll be responsible for setting their own timetable and communicating that to their citizens and residents in their own states and territories. Premiers and chief ministers have asked me to stress there should be no expectation of step one starting on day one, unless they are indeed already there," the Prime Minister said.
He mentioned Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory as the states and territories most likely to enact stage-one relaxations first. However, east-coast states – Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria – are "a very different situation".
Since March 23, pubs and bars across the country have been forced to close, while restaurants and cafés have been restricted to takeaway and home-delivery only.
In today's press conference, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy suggested restaurants and cafés could gradually introduce dine-in arrangements for up to 10 people, in line with stage-one restrictions as announced by the state and territory authorities.
The Prime Minister also signalled the JobKeeker scheme, designed to keep workers employed during the nationwide shutdown, and the JobSeeker program, will be reviewed in June.
"I need to stress again that was a temporary lifeline put in place to help Australians through the worst of this crisis, it comes at a very significant cost. Not just to current but to future generations as well," he said. "It's not envisaged to be a longer term arrangement."
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