Coronavirus latest: Cluster of new South Korean cases linked to one clubber

Australia’s Morrison says reopening plan could restore 850,000 jobs

Jamie Smyth in Sydney

Australia’s federal and state governments agreed a three-step plan on Friday to achieve a Covid-19 safe economy by July, which focuses on a phased reopening of business, recreation and social gatherings.

Scott Morrison, Australia’s prime minister, said the plan to reopen the economy could restore 850,000 jobs in the months ahead while preserving the successes achieved in suppressing the spread of the virus.

He said the first phase of the plan would allow gatherings of up to 10 people and five visitors to people’s homes, with individual states retaining the power to determine when this easing of restrictions is implemented.

“Be encouraged, Australia, that we are successfully making our way through this difficult battle on two fronts. Firstly, we’ve been fighting the virus and we are winning, Secondly, we have put in place and are delivering the economic lifeline,” said Mr Morrison.

“It is our goal to move through all of these steps to achieve that COVID safe economy in July of this year.”

Australia has dramatically reduced the rate of infections over recent weeks following the implementation of social distancing rules and border controls. It has reported 6,896 infections, a rise of 22 cases in the previous 24 hours.

Step two will allow gatherings of up to 20 people and the opening of gyms, cinemas and similar businesses. Step three will permit gatherings of up to 100 people, pubs and clubs to reopen and the opening of state borders.

Some Australian states and territories have already loosened restrictions, such as reopening national parks, swimming pools and playgrounds.