Australia begins easing restrictions and reopening businesses

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Australia begins easing restrictions and reopening businesses

Australian states and territories have been in a State of Emergency since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. Now that we've begun to flatten the curve, restrictions put in place as a response to the novel coronavirus are starting to ease.

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The global pandemic meant that there was a strong emphasis on social distancing, hygiene, and isolation as an effort to decrease the spread of the virus. Businesses closed, people stayed indoors, travel and gatherings were strictly limited, and toilet paper became the most sought-after commodity.

These restrictions (which Australians have vigilantly followed) have been instrumental in flattening the curve. However, still, it has been tough for all, especially businesses. Now that the data has proven how successful we have been in lessening COVID-19 cases, the Australian Government has announced plans of gradually easing restrictions. Which means, some businesses can begin to open their doors once again. Welcome patrons back with an SMS and update them on essential business news.

We may not go back to 'normal' right away. Still, with lesser restrictions, more businesses can open, more people can work, and there will be more personal freedoms. So make sure your customers know what new changes are coming to your business.

How will Australia begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions?

The Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, made a statement on May 8 announcing the Australian Government's 3 Step Framework for a COVID-safe Australia.

"Our three-step plan provides a pathway for jurisdictions to move towards COVID safe communities in a way that best suits their individual circumstances. States and territories are able to move between the steps on the pathway at different times, in line with their current public health situation and local conditions," the PM said.

He went on to indicate that any step taken must be underpinned by a strong commitment from all Australians to:

  • Keep 1.5 metres distance from other people whenever and wherever possible
  • Maintain good hygiene with appropriate hand washing and cough/sneeze procedures
  • Get tested if respiratory symptoms or a fever presents, and stay home when unwell
  • Download the COVIDSafe app—this will assist in response to outbreaks and clusters by monitoring and finding the virus quickly
  • Develop COVID safe plans for workplaces

"Our success depends on us making these behaviours part of our daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep us COVID safe."

Australians asked to stay home, still

At this point, Australians must continue to follow national and state regulations regarding COVID-19, social distancing, and travel. The Premier of Victoria, the Hon. Daniel Andrews MP reminded Victorians to remain vigilant in his announcement on Monday, May 11.

While there were only minor changes to restrictions in Victoria due to recent COVID-9 outbreaks, Premier Andrews thanked Victorians for their ongoing efforts. He reiterated that staying home is still a large part of flattening the curve, and people should only leave home for these specific reasons:

  1. Shopping for necessary food and supplies
  2. Care and caregiving
  3. Exercise and outdoor recreation
  4. Work and education—if you can't do it from home
  5. Visiting friends and family—if you really need to

Australia's Three-Step Framework

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Each state will determine which restrictions will be eased at the appropriate time, taking into consideration its individual needs and health situation.

Goal: to have a COVID-safe Australia by July 2020

Step One

Carefully reopen the economy and allow Australians to work and socialise. This step supports:

  • Gatherings of up to 10 people outdoors
  • Gatherings of up to 5 visitors in the family home
  • Some local and regional travel

Step Two

Focus on building up from Step One by extending gatherings to up to 20 people, and reopening more businesses. This step supports the reopening of businesses such as:

  • Gyms
  • Beauty services
  • Entertainment venues (i.e. galleries and cinemas)

Step Three - the 'new normal'

Begin to see a transition to COVID-safe ways of living and working, and will include permitted gatherings of up to 100 people.

The virus still remains a threat, so international travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will continue to be restricted during this stage.

Carefully easing restrictions is each state

In response to the National Cabinet's new three-step framework released on Friday, May 8, each Australian state and territory has released a roadmap tailored to its current coronavirus situation in each region.

Australian Capital Territory - ACT

New South Wales - NSW

Victoria - VIC

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Queensland - QLD

South Australia - SA

Tasmania - TAS

Western Australia - WA

Northern Territory - NT

Is your business aligned with local restrictions?

Before reopening, ensure your business follows all state and national restrictions. In some states and territories, select events and enterprises can reopen with caution. For others, tight regulations remain in place.

For example; NSW has eased restrictions on cafes and restaurants with limited dine-in patrons, the number of guests permitted at weddings and funerals, and reopening outdoor pools.

Follow the links above to find out more about the restrictions in your area.

Keep your stakeholders informed

Welcome your customers back with a personalised text message letting them know when your business reopens.

Ensure all hygiene, social distancing, and safety policies are well-communicated to staff and patrons alike.

Notify your employees of updates to business operations and rostering using SMS alerts.

Keep informed with ongoing changes in the community, the state, and the country, as new data comes to light.

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What do your customers need to know?

Reopening your business won't be as simple as flicking a switch. In the current climate, people have begun getting used to staying at home and only going out for the essentials. As restrictions ease, you must also ease your customers back into utilising your products and services again.

When preparing to reopen, keep your customers informed on your business':

  • Opening hours
  • New policies
  • Cashless transaction options
  • New products and services
  • Hygiene procedures (i.e. washing hands for 20 seconds, sneezing into the elbow, etc.)

Are there any changes to operations?

If you are introducing new policies and procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, all involved must understand what is being implemented. This might include notifying people of new open times, the limit of patrons allowed on the premises at one time, keeping 1.5m distance, and optimal hygiene procedures. Notify staff and patrons when they can expect these changes to occur and for how long.

What can your employees expect?

Prepare your employees to come back to work with regular updates. Keep them informed of all changes via SMS, ensure they have appropriate training in new procedures, and respect social distancing rules.

While there is still tension in the air, providing your employees with support and ease of mind when returning to work will assist with the transition. Empathy and understanding are essential for teamwork and maintaining a positive environment.

Australia's current Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and case numbers

More than 730,000 tests have been undertaken in Australia, and daily infection rates remained low over the last week. According to the Department of Health, less than 1000 positive cases of COVID-19 are active as of 9pm on May 10, 2020.

Since January 22, 2020, the total cases, recoveries, and deaths have been recorded in Australia, with updates released every 24 hours.

Positive COVID-19 cases in Australia as of May 10, 2020:

  • 6,941 cases in total
  • 6,143 cases recovered in total
  • 97 deaths in total

Outbreaks and clusters

While the government expects an increase in cases and possible outbreaks, numbers should remain low and be consistently assessed as restrictions are gradually eased.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated, "We are prepared for an increase in case numbers or possible outbreaks, but relapse should not be an option. A second wave is not something we can afford to go through. The cost to our people, our economy, our social fabric, is too high. We should look to build success in each step and move forward safely and with confidence."

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Australian governments are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation as restrictions are eased, allowing each state and territory to:

  • Assess the impact of changes
  • Track progress against all agreed precedent conditions
  • Determine the pace of implementing framework steps
  • Make any further decisions

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