Australia's Three-Step Plan To Reopen The Economy
Scott Morrison has released details of the three-step plan his government has put forward to reopen Australia’s economy, restore as many as 850,000 jobs and make the economy ‘COVID-safe’.
“Today, the National Cabinet agreed a three-step plan and a national framework to achieve a COVID safe economy and society,” he told reporters in Canberra today. “It is our goal to move through all of these steps to achieve that COVID safe economy in July of this year.”
“In this plan, we walk before we run. We know we need to be careful to preserve our gains, if we wish to reclaim the ground we lost, we cannot be too timid. There will be risks. There will be challenges. There will be outbreaks, there will be more cases, there will be set backs,” Morrison said.
“Three steps, moved at the pace of the States and Territories. That will get us back where we need to be. As quickly as we can. A plan that, according to the Treasury, can see some 850,000 jobs restored in the months ahead.”
The first stage of the reopening of the economy will allow five visitors into homes, as well as allowing gatherings of up to 10 people outside the household. It also relaxes restrictions on restaurants and cafes, libraries, community centres, home sales & auctions, local playgrounds, outdoor boot camps, as well as local and regional travel.
“Step one will enable greater connection with friends and family, allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, and five guests in your own home. Working from home, if it works for you, and your employer. That’s a difference in emphasis, as I’m sure you picked up.”
“It will see children back in classrooms and in playgrounds in their communities. Golfers back on the green. Lap swimmers back in the pool. Boot camps back in the parks. Retail and small cafes and restaurants reopening. Interstate recreational travel starting again. It will see easing of restrictions for funerals with up to 30 attendees, outdoors and 10 at weddings.”
The second stage of the easing of restrictions will allow ‘most’ businesses to reopen, so long as they’ve implemented physical distancing and hygiene measures.
“Step two will allow larger size gatherings up to 20 people, including large venues such as cinemas and galleries, more retail openings on sector-based COVID safe plans, organised community sport, and beauty parlours, and you’ll be pleased to know, barre classes open once again.”
In the third stage of the plan, Morrison says that “all Australians return to work with physical distancing & hygiene,” and that gatherings of up to 100 people will be made legal once again. This would also see food courts, saunas and all interstate travel reopened.
“Step three, allowing gatherings up to 100 people. This will become clearer as we move through the first two steps. There will be more work to do on step three. But most workers, by then, will be back in the workplace. Interstate travel will likely resume. Pubs and clubs with some restrictions will be open. And also possibly gaming venues.”
“As I said, step three, but also step two, will get greater definition as we move through the success of step one.”
How Fast Will We Move Through the Stages?
Morrison confirmed that this is a decision for the state and territory governments to make. “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.”
“Moving on these steps will take some preparation. It is also important to note that movement from one step to the next will depend on three criteria that we have always outlined, and indeed, that has enabled us to move today, a week earlier than planned.”
“On the issue of Premiers, they’ll be announcing their own timetables for when they’re making those statements,” Morrison said. “I think you can expect to see some of them later today… when you look at the three steps, there’s some states like Western Australia where step one has ticked the box… but those on the east coast, a very different situation.”
“They’ve all got different starting points. The whole country has the same endpoint, to get to a COVID safe economy.”
Jobs & the Economy
Scott Morrison stated that “those 850,000 jobs I’m advised by Treasury, that includes those who may be on JobSeeker and JobKeeper now. People stood down, going back to full employment. And those, that work is being done based on the steps you can see here today.”
“There’s a lot of uncertainties,” the PM conceded.
“I want to see everyone get to work. That’s the plan I set out, not just in relation to the opening our economy, and the reset we need on the policy level, that is what is going to drive the jobs and make us sustainable in the future. The essentials on hospital funding and disability funding and aged care, that all requires a strong economy.”
“Whichever way you look at this, the economic impact has been very harsh. Today, the Reserve Bank has set out their various scenarios. They’ve got an average scenario, I’m pleased that the average scenario is a little better than the one they were talking about not that long ago.”
JobKeeper and JobSeeker
Morrison reiterated his intention to get unemployment numbers down, stating that he wanted unemployed people “back in their jobs, where they don’t need it,” in reference to the JobSeeker payment that was increased in the early stages of the pandemic. “That’s what we want. I mean, people don’t want to be on JobKeeper and JobSeeker. They want to be in a job that’s paying them. And that’s what this plan is about.”
“Not to keep people on income support from the taxpayer, but to have a wage that’s provided by a business that’s successful and earning again and going forward and creating a strong economy. That’s what the lifeline is for, to get people to that point. That’s what we’re aiming towards,” he said.