Gunner to plan to ease restrictions by the end of the month
CHIEF Minister Michael Gunner has said he would be in a position to look at planning to ease restrictions in the NT by the end of the month.
Mr Gunner would not elaborate on what restrictions would be lifted first but said it would be done in the same way as when restrictions were scaled up in the last month.
He added while the NT was in the best position in Australia, conditions in our neighbouring states of Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia would have to be taken into consideration.
He answered 'yes' when asked if the Territory would ease some restrictions before other states and territories.
There has not been a confirmed case of coronavirus in the NT for the past 10 days.
He said some social distancing measures would need to be in place for at least six months.
Mr Gunner said some NT businesses would open earlier than others but added our borders would be closed for much longer after social restrictions were eased.
"We are the safest place in the country right now," he said.
Earlier, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia's strict economic coronavirus restrictions would remain in place for at least the next four weeks as governments plot the road out of the crisis.
An encouraging slump in infection rates has prompted federal and state leaders to set crucial benchmarks for restarting some jettisoned parts of the economy.
A broader testing regime, better contact tracing through a new app, and a greater capacity to respond to local outbreaks will determine reopening some sectors.
Mr Morrison said governments would look at restarting high-value, low-risk economic activity in mid-May if those goals can be met.
But the prime minister said social distancing measures would remain in place for the foreseeable future while a vaccine is unavailable.
"When it comes to the specific economic restrictions that have been put in place, after the next month then there will be the opportunity to review that and potentially make some changes," he told reporters in Canberra after Thursday's national cabinet meeting.
Economic lifelines, including wage subsidies and a higher dole, have a six-month life putting them on course to end in September.
Mr Morrison said a patient approach to relaxing restrictions was needed. "If you ease off too quickly too early, then you end up making the situation even worse, and I don't just mean in the health terms," he said. "If you move too early and the health response gets out of control, then the economic consequences will be even worse." Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy said Australia must hold the course while the health system was readied for the worst of the disease.
"Our numbers are looking very encouraging at the moment," he said. There have been 63 coronavirus deaths in Australia, which has recorded 6457 cases of the disease.
While more than half of people have recovered, there are 42 on ventilators across the country.
National cabinet will meet again Tuesday to discuss easing restrictions on elective surgeries.
Professor Murphy confirmed IVF was among the procedures under consideration but warned against a wide-ranging restart.
"It would be gentle and it would have to ensure we have enough protective equipment," he said.
On schools, national cabinet decided on a set of 13 principles which include protections for teachers and a commitment to education.
But there remain different approaches between states, with some urging parents to keep children home unless they have no option and others moving to fully working classrooms.
Mr Morrison admitted there would be variations between different states and territories, saying it was a health issue for teachers, not students. "They are more likely to be at risk in the staff room than they are in the classroom," he said.
Australia is staying on course to suppress the virus rather than eradicate it totally, unlike New Zealand which is pursuing the latter approach through a more extreme economic shutdown.
But health authorities say a potential by-product of the Australian approach is wiping coronavirus out in some areas.
"It's quite possible we could eradicate the virus in parts of the country," Professor Murphy said.
"Some states have had no cases for some days and small numbers of cases, all imported."
Originally published as Gunner to start planning to lift restrictions by end of month