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State premiers in Victoria and New South Wales have begun outlining plans for “a summer like never before” as authorities scramble to prepare for large crowds at beaches and warn of the possibility of Covid-19 outbreaks in the warmer months ahead.
On Monday the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said it was “a great day” after the state recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases.
But with Melbourne due to move to step two of the state’s roadmap next Sunday, the premier said it was too early to say whether restrictions could be eased sooner.
“This is not just a good day. This is a great day. We are seeing these numbers come down. This strategy is working,” he said.
“All of us have to stay the course though, because if we were to open up right now, these numbers are still too high and, as has been noted many, many times, as recently as in the media reporting today, if you were to open up today you won’t see the impacts of that for two to three weeks.”
As east coast cities begin to enjoy warmer weather in the lead-up to summer, state governments in Victoria and NSW have begun planning for the holiday period to prevent a Covid-19 resurgence.
Flagging “a summer like never before”, Andrews said the Victorian government was working on “creative and inventive things” to allow for more use of outdoor spaces.
“Not just for this summer but potentially for every summer, notwithstanding the fact that this is not Spain [or] LA, we do have rain,” he said.
“We can close lanes. We can close streets. We can do all sorts of creative and inventive things and have [an] alfresco experience, not just this summer but every summer.”
NSW reported only four new cases of the virus overnight, including three people in hotel quarantine, but the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, warned the state was heading into “a bit of a high-risk period” as warmer weather begins to attract larger crowds to Sydney’s beaches and restaurants.
“During the school holidays, understandably, families will be moving all across NSW and if the virus is circulating in parts of the state with so much mobility going on we do worry about what that might mean for other parts of the state,” Berejiklian said on Monday.
“This is happening at the same time as we’re easing border restrictions between Victoria and NSW so there’s more people coming across … so all of this means we’re heading into a bit of a high-risk period and we just want to make sure everybody is aware and that nobody is complacent because the second we get complacent, [that’s] the second the virus will beat us.”
The NSW government announced on Monday its “Covid-safe summer plan”, including an already-flagged decision to relax outdoor drinking and dining regulations in Sydney to revitalise the city’s hard-hit hospitality industry and help avoid new Covid-19 clusters during the summer months.
The minister for customer service, Victor Dominello, has led a push to allow for more outdoor dining in Sydney, and said on Monday that he hoped for eased conditions at sites around the Rocks and the city’s CBD by next month.
The plan also includes social distancing guidelines at beaches after some were closed in March due to concerns around overcrowding and plans to promote “forgotten” Sydney parkland.
The planning minister, Rob Stokes, said the government had one “simple rule” for visiting beaches over the summer.
“It’s keep a towel length from the person next to you, that’s the best way you can ensure that you are keeping yourself and the people next to you safe,” he said.
NSW Health is also considering whether people who do not pre-book taxis should sign in using QR codes, similar to the ones used in restaurant and bars, after a taxi driver was diagnosed with Covid-19 on the weekend.
The taxi driver had worked a number of shifts before testing positive, and NSW Health has issued an alert for passengers who caught a taxi in the Moorebank, Bankstown, Chipping Norton, Liverpool, Lidcombe, Warwick Farm and Milperra suburbs.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘A summer like never before’: Victoria and NSW prepare for Covid risk in the holiday season | Australia news