12 June 2020

“Next Friday I intend to sign new Public Health Directions that will enact our move to Step 2.2 of our plan, which we have modified to ease restrictions further from 12 noon on Friday 19 June 2020. This will be subject to a final assessment of the ACT situation (our checkpoint), from a public health perspective.

The biggest change to Stage 2.2 will see the current limit of 20 people for gatherings increase to 100 people across all areas, within one person per 4 square metres. This is further progress than we expected to be able to make at this time and is a result of our strong position.

Stage 2.2 will also better help us to move forward with Stage 3 in the coming weeks, with the decisions made by National Cabinet announced today. This is outlined in the latest release of our COVID-19 Easing of Restrictions Roadmap.

Many factors have been taken into consideration in our decision to progress easing of restrictions more quickly. Importantly we have had excellent business engagement and compliance as we have eased restrictions so far, our testing numbers are now well over 22,000, with 2,755 tests conducted since last Friday alone, and there continues to be no evidence of community transmission. The national picture continues to improve, and of particular importance is the fact that our neighbours in NSW are now recording very few cases that could potentially be due to community transmission – a positive sign.

In maintaining some restrictions on businesses, we have considered the ways that people will come together at these venues, the amount of people moving in and out of a business and how often, as well as the multiple surfaces people touch within a business, and the possibility of close contact between people.

There remains a cumulative risk when people gather and multiple social networks interact, so COVID Safety Plans, other return to business plans, and further control measures such as visitor logs for patrons, will continue to be critical to easing measures with the confidence we can rapidly respond in the event of an outbreak or cluster of new cases.

I am confident that we are in a good position to enable the Stage 2.2 easing to take place, as our health system is in a strong position, and we are also in a good position to be able to quickly detect new cases and contact trace.  Therefore, as we see further cases within the ACT, we are ready to act, and do so quickly.

There will be added responsibility however on business to continue to do the right thing and ensure they are following their COVID Safety Plans.  The community will also need to stay vigilant and continue their good work.

Our checkpoints

The checkpoints outlined in the updated Easing of Restrictions Roadmap are vital to ensure the safety of the community before we move onto the next stage.

On Friday 19 June it will be three weeks since the commencement of the first phase of Stage 2. This is a suitable amount of time to allow us to detect an important increase in risk, with three weeks the same amount of time as one to two incubation periods for COVID-19.

As we draw closer to next Friday, we will continue our monitoring for new cases, testing numbers and compliance rates from business and the community. These crucial health checks will help keep us safe moving forward.

Restrictions are easing but your responsibility hasn’t

As we allow more people to come together, we need to continue to mitigate the public health risks by having appropriate control measures in place. This is not just a requirement for businesses. It extends to all Canberrans.

We must all be sensible when having people in our homes and put in place our own control measures. This includes knowing who is there and at what times, downloading the COVIDSafe app, joining Flu Tracker and participating in important YourSay Community Panel engagements and health surveys that will help the ACT respond the best that it can.

Importantly, we must maintain physical distancing and practice good hygiene measures. If you are sick, then please stay at home. If you have symptoms, then please get tested at one of the ACT’s testing venues.

These principles have not changed and are the best way to keep our community safe.”

To view the latest release of Canberra’s Recovery Plan Easing of Restrictions Roadmap, visit https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/resources/canberra-recovery-plan.

For further information on Stage 2.2 easing of restrictions that are intended to come into effect on Friday 19 June, visit https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/faqs/faqs-changes-to-restrictions.