Australian Govt meeting earlier to decide on easing restrictions

Easing of lockdowns: Across the globe, a growing number of nations are easing lockdowns or are planning to announce an end to some restrictions that have taken an immense toll on economies, lives and livelihoods. For some places, the easing cannot come soon enough. For most, some restrictions will remain in place for months to come as the world adjusts to the ongoing threat from the coronavirus.

SYDNEY • The Australian government said yesterday it would meet a week ahead of schedule to decide whether to ease social distancing restrictions, as the number of new coronavirus cases dwindles and pressure mounts for businesses and schools to reopen.

Australia has reported over 6,700 cases and 93 deaths. Growth in new infections has slowed to less than 0.5 per cent a day, compared with 25 per cent a month ago.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was imperative to lift social distancing restrictions as early as possible as 1.5 million people were on unemployment benefits and the government forecast the unemployment rate to top 10 per cent within months.

“We need to restart our economy, we need to restart our society,” he said.

His government has pledged spending of more than 10 per cent of gross domestic product to boost the economy, but the central bank still warns that the country is heading for its worst contraction since the 1930s.

With fewer than 20 new coronavirus cases discovered each day, Mr Morrison said state and territory lawmakers would meet on May 8 – a week earlier than expected – to determine whether to lift restrictions.

“Australians deserve an early mark for the work that they have done,” he said.

Cabinet will also decide next week how to restart sports across the country, he added.

REUTERS

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