Restrictions ease as holidays begin

Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains optimistic interstate travel will restart nationally by July.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison remains optimistic interstate travel will restart nationally by July.

The easing of COVID-19 restrictions will be put to the test over this and next weekend as Australians enjoy public holidays.

Canberra, for example, is opening gyms and health facilities, as well as galleries, museums and other attractions from Saturday, ahead of its public holiday on Monday.

Most state and territory leaders told a national cabinet meeting on Friday they were hopeful of implementing stage three of lifting restrictions by the end of July. Stage three includes allowing gatherings of 100 people.

Such has been the success of regular meetings of the cabinet during the crisis - made up of the prime minister, premiers and first ministers - it will replace the less frequent gatherings of the Council of Australian Governments.

However, the process of the national cabinet has not all been plain sailing, with frictions over the closing of schools during the height of the crisis, and more recently over borders closures.

"We don't agree on everything. Not everyone always does. It would be a bit weird if they did in a democracy," Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded to reporters after Friday's meeting.

The Queensland government, in particular, has been under attack for keeping its border closed.

However, a new survey by the Australia Institute has found more than three quarters support states closing their borders to interstate travel.

The survey of 1005 Australians found strong support for border closures among the four largest states - 88 per cent in Western Australia, 78 per cent in Queensland, 76 per cent in Victoria and and 70 per cent in NSW.

"The strong support for state border closures shows that while there is much public relief with some public health restrictions lifting, there is also still much community concern regarding the spread of COVID19," the institute's executive director Ben Oquist said on Saturday.

Australia's coronavirus death toll remains at 103, with fewer than 500 active cases remaining from more than 7170 infections.

In Victoria, nearly a dozen new coronavirus cases have been confirmed, including three more cases linked to a Melbourne school and four from a hotel used to quarantine returned travellers.

The state's Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has warned life cannot return to normal yet.

"People by-and-large are listening but I'm concerned about certain quarters of the community who aren't getting the message, who are reflecting on the fact that we're easing some restrictions and are thinking we're back to normal," he told reporters.

However, there were no new coronavirus cases in the nation's most populous state, NSW, or Queensland.

Australian Associated Press